UNMC grant prioritizes nurses' mental health

We hear the numbers every night, but nurses feel the impact every day. The pandemic has really taken a toll on their mental health which makes a new program at UNMC College of Nursing so important. When Dr. Alyson Hanish graduated from nursing school in 2008, she said there weren’t any conversations about mental health within her profession. The pandemic changed that and emphasized the need for resources. “During this pandemic, I saw family members, friends and colleagues struggling with burnout and mental health-related conditions,” she said. That’s why Hanish applied for a $2.2 million grant, to create wellness programs and mental health intervention at UNMC. “I felt this gut instinct to do something about it,” Hanish said.She said the program will offer help over a three-year period to tackle crucial issues, from burnout to chronic stress. “We’re the first patient, you know, we have to take care of the first patient so we can help all the other patients,” said longtime nurse Deb Wagner Humpal. She said it’s tough seeing so many sick people, so having mental health options available is a relief. “It’s empowering to know that, others are trying to help us kind of fill our well so that we’re able to nurture others,” said Wagner Humpal. She said this grant could lead to more opportunities. “It’s an investment, I think in the mental health of the people who are providing care,” said Wagner Humpal. The grant focuses on all nurses within UNMC, including future ones. “In students, registered nurses, as well as advanced practice registered nurses and their employers,” Hanish said.Hanish said, she hopes it will also help in rural areas. “Go directly into these critical access hospitals, and offer them these trainings, for free, provide the resources and the technology that they may need to do it,” she said. Hanish said these wellness programs could have an impact on retaining nurses and help with recruitment. Resources may be available as soon as spring for current nurses and in the fall for future nurses.

We hear the numbers every night, but nurses feel the impact every day. The pandemic has really taken a toll on their mental health which makes a new program at UNMC College of Nursing so important.

When Dr. Alyson Hanish graduated from nursing school in 2008, she said there weren’t any conversations about mental health within her profession.

The pandemic changed that and emphasized the need for resources.

“During this pandemic, I saw family members, friends and colleagues struggling with burnout and mental health-related conditions,” she said.

That’s why Hanish applied for a $2.2 million grant, to create wellness programs and mental health intervention at UNMC.

“I felt this gut instinct to do something about it,” Hanish said.

She said the program will offer help over a three-year period to tackle crucial issues, from burnout to chronic stress.

“We’re the first patient, you know, we have to take care of the first patient so we can help all the other patients,” said longtime nurse Deb Wagner Humpal.

She said it’s tough seeing so many sick people, so having mental health options available is a relief.

“It’s empowering to know that, others are trying to help us kind of fill our well so that we’re able to nurture others,” said Wagner Humpal.

She said this grant could lead to more opportunities.

“It’s an investment, I think in the mental health of the people who are providing care,” said Wagner Humpal.

The grant focuses on all nurses within UNMC, including future ones.

“In students, registered nurses, as well as advanced practice registered nurses and their employers,” Hanish said.

Hanish said, she hopes it will also help in rural areas.

“Go directly into these critical access hospitals, and offer them these trainings, for free, provide the resources and the technology that they may need to do it,” she said.

Hanish said these wellness programs could have an impact on retaining nurses and help with recruitment.

Resources may be available as soon as spring for current nurses and in the fall for future nurses.

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