According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder. Not only do primary care providers like NPs treat their patients with mental health needs, but psychiatric mental health NPs (PMHNPs) also provide therapy and prescribe medications for patients who have mental health disorders or substance abuse problems.
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) is joining the movement to raise awareness about mental health, provide essential NP continuing education (CE) and offer additional ways NPs can support their patients with mental health or substance use disorders.
The AANP CE Center provides a number of psych- and mental health-related CE activities available free for AANP members, including:
Health care providers, like NPs, may be experiencing high volumes of stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are facing uncertainty due to layoffs, furloughs or emergency declarations limiting nonessential business. NP students have reported experiencing difficulty finding preceptors or reduced clinical hours. Other NPs who are on the front lines treating patients may face burnout and strain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that health care providers and other responders may experience secondary traumatic stress, defined as “reactions and symptoms resulting from exposure to another individual’s traumatic experiences.” The organization offers a number of tips for taking care of yourself, including:
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is supporting the information needs of school deans, faculty, students and others involved in nursing and NP education by providing:
In addition, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) offers resources to support the health and well-being of clinicians during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include strategies for health care leaders and managers, as well as for clinicians themselves:
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, patients may be experiencing higher levels of anxiety, stress, fear and social isolation. For individuals who have mental health conditions like depression, their symptoms may worsen.
NIMH has educational materials and resources for your practice to help support your patients who are experiencing additional mental health or substance use concerns during this time, including:
In addition, visit AANP’s Infectious Disease page to see information and guidelines for patients with high-risk conditions, including patients with mental health concerns.