Nurses and their psyche: “Support each other as colleagues” | Right away

Since we have been battling the coronavirus, the nurses have been working in extreme conditions. This increases the risk of mental health problems, says health psychologist Huub Buijssen. In his book Peer support and support. A practical guide for healthcare professionals and well-being, he explains how.

Many nurses are now in an overwhelming situation. What does that mentally do to them?

“The pressure on this group is enormous. In a short time, many patients died suddenly at the same time. Since relatives were often not there, nurses and doctors had to fulfill this role. It’s emotionally tough.’

“There is also a lot of fear among health care workers of infecting themselves or infecting others themselves. But the biggest challenge is the ongoing uncertainty around the virus and the situation. We humans are poorly coping with insecurity, which is a big stress factor. All in all, this can lead to depressive feelings and insomnia.”

Your book was published six weeks ago Peer support and support. It states that the help of a psychologist is not immediately needed by nurses.

“That’s right. From experience with previous disasters, we know that nurses prefer to vent their colleagues’ hearts. Sending people directly to a psychologist is also undesirable. He or she can then start to think that he or she is very serious, and that is not conducive to recovery.

“In addition, you send the wrong signal to the immediate environment, which is that they don’t have to do anything because the person in question is already getting good help. They may also think that providing help is very difficult and that this can only be done by a psychologist.”

Isn’t that true?

“No. However, it is important to distinguish between psychotrauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The first is a normal reaction after a violent event, the second is an abnormal one.

The distinction is their duration. It is quite normal if you suffer from discomfort for the first month after the event, only if they persist longer, it is advisable to call professional help. However, most people naturally have enough resilience and are relieved of their symptoms after a month.”

“A tip for self-sufficiency is peace, cleanliness, regularity. It seems like an open door, but it’s not.’

Huub Buijssen

How can colleagues in the health care sector support each other?

“There are many ways to do this. An important piece of advice is that you should never adopt your own way of processing. One does this by speaking, the other wants to be left alone. So ask what someone needs.

A tip for self-sufficiency is peace, cleanliness, regularity. It seems like an open door, but it isn’t. Especially when it comes to stressful situations. Be sure to sleep for eight hours and take many breaks. Whether there is room for this is, of course, also the responsibility of the manager.”

Has the Corona crisis put the issue of mental health care for nurses on the agenda?

“Yes, I do. Also because managers themselves are experiencing a lot of stress now. Therefore, they are now even more aware of the importance of this.”

Huub Buijssen also wrote the brochure for nurses Stay afloat in times of Corona.