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Depression In The Nursing Profession: Nurses Mental Health By Ajah Kingsley Ifeanyichukwu RN
Date Posted: 12/Dec/2019
No hospital can exist without its Nurses, this is because Nurses are always at the forefront of patient's health care. 
 
From the General outpatient department (GOPD) , delivery room, emergency room, surgical floor, operating room, intensive care units to any other unit of the hospital where patient's care is required,these angels without wings are always there relieving patient's stress and distress, ensuring their quick recovery or a peaceful death.
 
Little wonder many refer to the profession as a vocation, this is because of how dedicated  Nurses are to their duties. Only few persons can do what Nurses do and unless you are a Nurse, you can not fully understand the Nursing profession.
 
However, nursing can be a difficult profession in as much as it is a fulfilling career. It can be physically exhausting, emotionally depleting, and mentally demanding. The taxing and overwhelming nature of the job predisposes Nurses to burn out.
 
The workload is enormous, the unending 12hours shifts, the paperworks, night shifts of sleeplessness and stress, the shortage of nursing staff, the unsupportive hospital policies, the work place conflicts, the meagre salaries, bullying by senior colleagues and other hospital workers, having to deal with ethical dilemmas each day are enough to cause both physical and mental distress to any nurse.
 
It does not matter to anybody if you have personal issues you are dealing with. Nobody wants to know if you are facing an imminent divorce or just lost a relative.  As far as you have the title "Nurse"attached to your name, you are always expected to put up a cheerful face even when you have demons you are struggling with.
 
All these stress can lead to Nurses' burnout and ultimately ,depression when not properly managed.  
Little wonder the number of depressed nurses is growing everyday.
 
On April 9th last year,it was reported on gulf news that an Indian nurse committed suicide in Al Ain by jumping from the rooftop of the hospital. 
On October 4th this year,it was reported that a 30year old female nurse working in medical college Hamirpur committed suicide in her room by hanging herself to the ceiling fan due to workplace bullying by senior colleagues and just last week, 20 November 2019, Leona Goddard,a 35years NHS nurse was reported to have committed suicide after working 12hours shift.
 
Yet, we still ask why? 
why dedicated nurses commit suicide? Why many nurses are leaving the nursing profession?  why good nurses make mistakes?  why the rate of depression in nursing is on the increase?
 
Is the answer not obvious?
 
I still remember being bullied by a doctor when I was a  student nurse. It is an experience I will never forget in a hurry. 
 
It was my first clinical posting as a student nurse. In the pediatrics ward,my attention was drawn to a 7 months baby whose mother complained that the intravenous fluid insitu was not dropping, the staff nurse in charge was not available so I sent for the doctor so he can reset the intravenous line.
 
As a fresher,I never knew that the positioning of a patient's hand could affect the flow rate of the intravenous fluid, so when the doctor arrived and discovered that the positioning of the patient's hand was the reason why the IV fluid was not dropping. 
 
He lashed out at me. His words were filled with venom. He stripped me of my self esteem and self confidence with his words. Was it about me or did he just hate nurses?
 
This was one question I couldn't answer.
 
I was sad, depressed,angry, emotionally broken and lost my appetite throughout that day. If all hospital workers are like that doctor then I don't want to work in the hospital!
 
That ugly incident affected my interpersonal relationship with doctors in subsequent clinical postings,I didn't want to put myself out there just to get humiliated and embarrassed at the end of the day.
 
Depression in nursing is a huge crisis. It doesn't just affect the nurse alone ,its effect spills over even to the patients. 
 
Depressed nurses make a lot of medication and documentation errors. They don't make sound clinical decisions. They don't give adequate standard of care and all these can affect patient's recovery.
 
One thing about nurses who are suffering from depression is that they find it difficult to open up to others for fear that they might lose their jobs, other times,it is usually because they believe that as a nurse you must be able to fix your problems, forgetting that they themselves also need help because nurses are humans too.
 
To stop this cancer called depression before it metastasizes in this noble profession,I advise that nurses should invest in their health especially their mental health,in as much as they are caring for others.
 
Instead of the lateral violence that exist in the profession,let nurses begin to be a pillar of support to one another. 
 
If you feel overwhelmed or stressed out by any disturbing issue, don't bottle it up rather open up to someone. 
 
As a nurse develop healthy ways of coping with stress, take a break, listen to inspiring songs,get some rest,relax, have fun and do what you love. By all means,ease off stress!
 
It only takes a physically, emotionally, socially and mentally sound nurse to render a holistic care.
 
Let us fight depression in the nursing profession by empowering nurses' mental health.

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