The pandemic left nurses across the country physically worn out, emotionally exhausted, and asking themselves if it’s worth it. In a survey by the American Organization for Nursing leadership, 36% of nurse managers admitted they are not emotionally healthy. One out of every two nurses has thought about quitting. That’s why the University of Colorado College of Nursing has made mental health and wellness a top priority.
Just like First Aid can help someone with bleeding, the Mental Health First Aid curriculum is First Aid for nurses. The students learn about spotting signs of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in coworkers and themselves. They also learn to listen without judgment so the person who is stressed feels respected, accepted, and understood.
CU Nursing also has a group of mental health nurse practitioners who help the students talk about the need to step away and take a break.
Mental health care is now central in a post-pandemic world experiencing more mass shootings and mental illness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions and substance use disorders have increased 13% in the last decade. Those conditions impact all areas of life, including school and work performance, relationships, and the ability to participate in the community. Two of the most common mental health conditions, depression, and anxiety, cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year, according to WHO.
To learn about the new mental health coursework at CU Nursing, we spoke with the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Program and Specialty Lead Academic Advisor in the Baccalaureate Nursing Program Tammy Spencer, DNP, RN, CNE, ACNS-BC, CCNS.