It’s only been a little over three months since COVID-19 started its sweep of the United States of America and just two weeks of protesting for racial justice. And while coping mentally and emotionally with the combination of current events is difficult for most, there’s a palpable, tangible layer of trauma added for nurses. Nurses expose themselves to trauma daily that often hides behind dark humor and a packed schedule of adventure.
This is different.
In just a few short months, nurses and frontline workers shouldered the burden of caring for an unknown. Bringing on an onslaught of fear, stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. This stress can be particularly isolating for travel nurses who answered the call that took them away from their support systems.
Mental Health Resources for Travel Nurses
Whether it’s a fear of infecting loved ones with the coronavirus or the trauma of racial injustice, it’s clear a crucial part of nursing the country back to health lies in promoting mental health resources. Below we’ll share options for travel nurses. While availability may vary, we believe it’s essential to find an option that works for you.
1. Support Groups and Webinars
Storytelling and sharing can generate empathy. For nurses, talking about the hard stuff to non-nurses can sometimes turn into comforting listeners rather than releasing trauma. Many nurses find comfort in sharing with people who understand the emotional toll your job can expose you to daily.
- The Compassion Caravan: The American Holistic Nurses Association started this project as 2020 is their 40th anniversary and Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. Their website states this is a “national project led by holistic nurses for all of the nursing to offer compassion through heart-centered presence, holistic communication, networking and focused experiences in self-reflection and healing.” They will hold virtual workshops and listening circles through October 2020. Learn more here and scroll down to see event dates.
- Frontline Nurses WikiWisdom: This collaboration between John Hopkins School of Nursing and the American Journal of Nursing provides a space where nurses fighting the Covid-19 pandemic can share their experiences. It allows sharing your knowledge, experience, and challenges about working on a pandemic front line. And they’re committed to keeping this space available 24/7 until this pandemic exits. Learn more and register here.
2. Mental Health Apps for On-The-Go Therapy
Picture this, you’ve finished a long shift and feel drawn to talk to a mental health professional, but you’re in a city you don’t know. So, you’ll search for a therapist and potentially wear another mask to be in a physical office. Thankfully, it’s 2020, and we can do almost everything from our phones.
- Talkspace: From a dedicated COVID-19 Instagram channel to therapist-led Facebook groups, the industry-leading app has an option for just about everyone. More than that, they have a special offer for nurses and frontline workers. Learn more here.
- Headspace: This mindfulness app promotes tools and meditations to relieve stress and help you feel more resilient. And now, they’re offering free services to those affected by unemployment. Learn more here.
- Youper: This AI platform uses anonymous data to discover trends and short conversations to engage users in healthier moods. It incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), mindfulness, and meditation. Learn more here.
3. Resources From Your Agency
Many travel nurse agencies have expanded their benefits programs to fit better with nurses’ needs — including mental health and emotional well-being resources. Whether you’re currently on assignment or considering a new assignment, now is a great time to ask your recruiter what programs are available to you. While you may also see additional programs, like webinars and meet-ups surrounding nursing’s clinical aspects during a pandemic, look at what your agency offers regardless of a crisis. Below are a few offerings your agency may provide.
- Employee Assistance Programs: EAPs provide a range of different services and/or resources to address personal issues that may interfere with an employee’s well-being. These programs offer assessment and resources that may help employees with emotional issues, interpersonal relationships, legal problems, and financial difficulties. Some top agencies are adding EAPs as a benefit so their nurses can show up for their patients. Oh, and they’re typically at no additional cost.
- Chaplain Programs: It’s easier for staff nurses to feel comfortable with their hospital Chaplain. Many travel nurses might not even meet the Chaplain at their facility before moving to a new assignment. That’s why select agencies have their own non-denominational Chaplain. A Chaplain primarily communicates over the phone with travelers, but having someone you can quickly contact in times of spiritual or emotional support can be a relief.
- Benefits Specialists: Does your insurance cover mental health counseling? How do you find out? A great travel nurse agency should have someone who can speak with you to explain your benefits and how they work with your current situation. Your benefits specialist can answer your insurance questions, guide you by selecting the right coverage for you, and send you important info regarding your mental health options.
While it’s easy to say that 2020 has proven tumultuous thus far, there will be a time when we’re on the other side. To prepare for what’s next, it’s paramount for you to prioritize investing in your emotional well-being as a travel nurse. Because elective surgeries will return, assignments will open, and bucket-list adventures will be back on.