Beyond Burnout: Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in Healthcare


As the country moves forward into a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses and other clinicians are continuing to struggle with high levels of trauma, anxiety, and depression, and are experiencing suicidal thoughts at twice the rate of the average American adult. The mental health crisis among healthcare workers is beyond burnout.

A new whitepaper from Medical Solutions, anchored in current research, addresses the severity of the crisis, considers its implications on the existing healthcare staffing shortage, and provides steps health system leaders can take to support the mental health of their staff and create a more emotionally healthy and resilient workforce. Here are some of findings and recommendations.

Caregivers are Suffering

  • A recent study showed more than 70% of healthcare workers in the U.S. have symptoms of anxiety and depression. Further, 15% have had recent thoughts of suicide or self-harm, and 38% have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Shortage Worsens

  • Retirements, both planned and unexpected, will accelerate the nurse shortage. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs in 2022, with more than 500,000 expected to retire by 2022. That’s planned retirement. A 2021 survey by Vivian showed that 43% of respondents were considering leaving healthcare. When asked the same question a year before, just 20% said they were considering leaving. Patient care will suffer without adequate staffing.

Address the “I’m Fine” Culture

  • Health system leaders must better care for caregivers and reduce staff burden. This starts by addressing the “I’m fine” culture that exists with nursing when it comes to mental health. Frontline clinicians are a population of people who are generally more apt to want to care for others than to practice appropriate amounts of self-care.

Prioritize Mentorship

  • Systems can provide more mentorship to younger nurses. There’s a significant gap regarding the way younger nurses perceive the amount of organizational support they receive. Supporting younger professionals through mentorship can lead to better care and patient outcomes as well as improved employee retention.

Recovery Resource

  • Health systems can build comprehensive systems to help staff address mental health in both the short and long term. This can include resources to aid recovery for staff following traumatic events and identifying staff in need of additional emotional support. To better promote long-term recovery, additional resources must be centralized and easy to access.

Strategic Staffing

  • A system-wide understanding and forecast of labor needs, combined with a comprehensive staffing strategy that includes contingent labor, could help retain or find nurses and clinicians and relieve the burden on existing staff.

Ready to learn more? Beyond Burnout: Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in Healthcare is available to download from HealthLeaders now. If you’re interested in exploring a strategic approach to addressing your healthcare staffing needs and want helpful insights paired with human-first service, start a conversation with Medical Solutions. Our total workforce solutions can meet your needs and help deliver the skilled, quality clinicians your patients deserve.

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