Action needed to address increased psychosocial risks in Nursing and Midwifery

This International Day of Mourning, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) remembers those who have lost their life at work and renews calls for more to be done to address mental health workplace risks to prevent further tragic losses.

International Day of Mourning (28 April) is a day to remember and honour those who have lost their lives at work.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, expressed concern around the increasing psychosocial and mental health risks impacting nurses and midwives.

“We’d like to see urgent investment focused on protecting the psychosocial wellbeing and mental health of nurses and midwives,” Ms Candish said.

“We’ve seen a significant amount of research in the past year highlighting the extent of the problem. A COVID-19 Frontline Healthcare Worker study found one in 10 healthcare workers surveyed reported thoughts of suicide or self-harm over a two-week period.

“Healthcare workers were also twice as likely as workers in other industries to experience psychological injury, according to a Design for Care survey on Psychological injury in the NSW Healthcare and social assistance industry.”

A report released earlier this year commissioned by the NSWNMA revealed 15 in every 100 nurses and midwives surveyed are suffering symptoms of post-traumatic stress at clinical levels, with overwork, exhaustion and burnout identified as key contributors.

“The data and research into mental health risks at workplaces is there, now we need action to address the issues,” Ms Candish said.

“Workplaces should be proactive and encouraging reporting of workplace psychosocial hazards and risks as ignoring them or accepting them as the norm is increasingly dangerous.

“In addition to that, we need increased risk mitigation measures to address occupational violence, improved programs to reduce bullying, further training for staff and managers to support each other after traumatic events, and a review of the Employee Assistance Program.

“The NSW government commitment to implement ratios in NSW public hospitals through their Safe Staffing policy will have a positive impact on nurses and midwives mental health, but more must be done.”

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