Post-Pandemic Emotional Support: Resources for Nurses
More than any other profession, nurses, first-responders, and other healthcare professionals have had an emotionally harrowing time since the appearance of COVID-19. The long hours, coupled with providing care to Covid patients, many of whom were critically ill, have been something few working in healthcare could have anticipated before the pandemic. Nurses generally have the most face-to-face contact with patients in the healthcare industry, including before the pandemic. This gives you the feeling that you are truly making a difference but also carries with it risks of infection and the challenging emotional experience when a patient is not getting better. As an essential worker, it was and continues to be necessary to find the strength to continue working through it all. It is an understatement to call nurses and doctors heroes.
However, nobody can be strong 100% of the time; especially if making it through the day, the week, the month, or even the past few years has required you to put aside your reactions to the healthcare crisis since 2020. When your job involves taking care of the physical and emotional health of others, it is easy to de-prioritize your own mental health, putting it on the back burner for some other time. Unfortunately, this is not a sustainable way to take care of yourself, and to let others take care of you. Not giving yourself the space and time to process the last few years easily leads to burnout or more serious pain in the long term.
There is no shame in needing support, and you aren’t alone. If you feel yourself feeling numb and unable to enjoy things, or find yourself self-isolating, it may be time to seek help. If you have never been in therapy before, it is normal to feel nervous or apprehensive. Try not to let this stop you from seeking care: mental healthcare providers are approachable, professional providers that tailor their care to your goals and the pace you want to move at in your mental health journey. Letting yourself be vulnerable and be taken care of, rather than the other way around, is essential for any human—and much more so for people on the frontlines of saving lives, treating illness, and promoting wellness. Seeking support for your mental health is one of the best investments you can make in your own well-being. Whether you are looking for peer support, affordable healthcare for nurses, or talk therapy, here is a list of resources to check out:
1. Self-Care, Support Groups, and Peer Support for Nurses
The Well-Being Initiative was developed by prominent nursing associations to provide support for nurses during Covid-19. On their website, they have many resources, including information on a 24/7 toll-free confidential hotline, Happy Toll-free, (833) 327-0262, a link to the podcast series Nursing State of Mind Podcasts, and a stress self-assessment tool. They have links to pro-bono, reduced-price, or free therapy from different sources, and also links to a free self-care webinar series created by the American Nursing Association.
The Compassion Caravan and Healing Circles Global hosts Virtual Compassionate Listening Circles for nurses and healthcare providers to share in a non-judgemental, confidential, open circle. These are hosted every Wednesday at 8pm EST and provide a space for people who want a hosted, large, community setting to share their feelings.
PeerRx is a program that helps you and another healthcare provider, your “buddy,” follow a flexible, guided peer support program. They encourage frequent weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-ins with your buddy to authentically connect with each other. They include prompts for the meetings, and will email you a reminder. It is encouraged that your buddy is somebody already in your network, perhaps another travel nurse!
2. Free or Discounted Talk Therapy for Nurses
This initiative connects healthcare professionals who have been emotionally impacted by the pandemic to therapists who offer pro-bono or low-fee online sessions. You can search for a therapist in the state you are located in, then the highest fee you can afford, before searching for specializations in the type of therapy offered.
The Emotional PPE Project is a directory that healthcare workers can use to find therapists that offer free services to frontline workers affected by the pandemic. You can search by state, and then look through the mental health practitioners’ specialties and short bio before reaching out via phone or email.
Frontline Therapy network offers up to six sessions of therapy and teletherapy completely free of charge. You also are placed with a provider who is assured to serve frontline workers with informed and compassionate care. It is a confidential service that can accommodate crisis schedules.
3. Therapy through your insurance
For the most direct and immediate option, therapy through your employer’s insurance will always be the most affordable for longer-term care. Many therapists are only licensed through insurance in one state, so make sure that your provider can continue care with you past your job assignment. Think about what kind of therapy appeals to you, and if you have any other preferences.
PsychologyToday is a database of therapists that allows you to narrow your search with filters like accepted insurance, type of therapy certificate, gender, and issues the therapist specializes in.
However, if the prospect of researching a therapist and going through your insurance is too daunting, there are several private, online options that may be able to help you.
4. Private Online Talk Therapy (No Insurance)
BetterHelp is a great option if you don’t opt to use insurance through your employer for mental health benefits. The website offers a week of free therapy, and if you decide to not continue with the service within the initial month, you are refunded half the sum paid. BetterHelp’s therapy options start at $35 for a weekly session if you commit to a year-long membership. The price goes up to $65 each week for a monthly membership and 80$ for a weekly membership.
Talkspace is another popular app for online therapy. It has two benefits over BetterHelp: they provide an option for psychiatric care where their doctors can prescribe medication, and they take several insurance plans to offset their cost of their services. However, their three plans without insurance are a bit more expensive than BetterHelp, with the basic plan starting at $65 per week for online messaging with a medical practitioner or psychiatrist, roughly $99 per week for four live video sessions in addition to messaging, and even more for psychiatric care. This article at VeryWell Mind weighs the costs and benefits of these two online therapy services.