Why nurses don't want to talk to a ward psychologist? - page 2

Hello, Since I often seek and get good information at this forum I had an idea I can ask you for help with my current issue. I am a psychologist working in a pediatric ICU. I am there mostly for... Read More

  1. by   Scottishtape
    Also, RE:, "nurses rarely seek psychological help or advice":

    I don't believe that to be true at all. The more accurate statement is (as we've seen in the responses to this thread), "nurses do not seek psychological help or advice AT WORK".

    Just because nurses don't seek assistance at work doesn't mean they don't seek assistance.

    A quick search of this forum will result in many threads where nurses are discussing receiving psychiatric services for one reason or another. And, when nurses come here sharing they're having a difficult emotional situation, the vast majority of responses is to seek out psychiatric help.

    We're not opposed to getting help, but we do value the positions that allow us to feed our families, and no amount of "we'll keep this confidential" will break down that wall of fear.

    If you really do want to help the nurses you work with get psych assistance, find non work related community services these nurses could use without the fear of repercussion.

    I do think it's wonderful that you're concerned with their well being as well as the patient's well being. Nurses need to be cared for as well.
  2. by   MrNurse(x2)
    I started my career in 1987 at a very nice religious based hospital. They were wonderful to their employees. They gave me paid time off when they found out my wife and I were divorcing, knew what was best for everyone. Fast forward to now and the same place with new owners tells widows to get back to work within days of burying their husbands. There would be no way I would talk to anyone in my place of employment in this new culture.
  3. by   Wuzzie
    Hard pass. Hard, hard pass.
  4. by   Julius Seizure
    Quote from manjar
    ...nurses rarely seek psychological help or advice. Head nurse encouraged me to talk about reasons for that. I do have my explanations but I would be really happy to hear what you think about that.
    Manjar, I am curious what explanation you were thinking of for why nurses "rarely seek psychological help or advice". Now that you have heard nurses responses, would you mind sharing?
  5. by   hppygr8ful
    I do feel that you have received some good answers. I believe mostly that nurses do not seek help at work due to the fear of what should be confidential leaking out. Even in the most well-intentioned scenario this can be devastating. I speak from personal experience here as my HIPAA rights were violated when I tried to kill myself 15 years ago and It didn't take very long for the whole hospital to know that 1.I had an alcohol problem (never impaired at work) 2. That I had tried to kill myself. 3 that I had been fired. I was also subsequently black balled by every hospital in the system. I ran into an old friend from those days who said she heard I was dead.

    Even if you are a generally strong person - I have learned to never show my employer any weakness they can capitalize on. I am a stealth bomber. I swoop in, do my job well, and fly out. I turn my phone off when I am not at work and I take care of myself. Your employer does not have your best interests at heart - they have the hospital's interests at heart. and though both things should be the same they often are not.

    So no I would not go to a therapist based in the hospital for my mental health needs - other that required critical incident debriefings.

  6. by   DeeAngel
    Nurses know speaking to anyone connected with the hospital can lead to gossip and drama. We have learned not to trust hospital administration, they never have our interests at heart.
  7. by   Daisy4RN
    Agree with the others, I would never speak to a therapist connected with the hospital, a 100% guarantee of leaking!! (If you are the exception to the rule I apologize)
  8. by   Julius Seizure
    I mean, I would hesitate to trust my health insurance company with the information that I was seeing a mental health professional, let alone trust my employer with that information.
  9. by   Purple_roses
    I get free counseling sessions at my hospital, but I haven't used them for a couple of reasons. One, I don't want management or other nurses knowing that I feel the need to use them. Two, sometimes I feel too exhausted about certain situations and the thought of rehashing things seems too draining.

    Great question though.
  10. by   manjar
    Thanks everyone for answering and sharing your thoughts.
    First, I do have to correct myself and say that what I meant was nurses rarely seek psychological help at work and not in general.

    All the reasons you gave, the most common being fear of negative consequences after trusting to someone in the workplace are also the reasons I have in mind. And I can truly understand the mistrust although I still wish this wouldn't have to be the case. Stigma is real. That is for sure. Total confidence is something I take really seriously (as every psychological worker should).

    As I said before I can understand nurses don't come for help regarding their personal issues. And I will definitely consider your opinion I should help with finding support in the community.
    What I am more surprised (and sometimes even get frustrated) about is the fact that they rarely come for consultation about professional issues.
    Let me explain the case. I work on this unit for 3 years now. There wasn't a psychologist before that. General atmosphere is that they hardly waited for a psychologist, everyone needs one, they are all happy to have one etc. Having this in mind I soon started offering consultations about dealing with parents, working with children in distress, talking about troubles at work, dealing with mistakes at work, enhancing communication skills, stress management etc. What happened was almost no one responded. We also tried group settings for mentioned topics, we ensured it was in their work time and nurses could pick which other members they want in their group. The result was the same.
    The biggest irony I think is the fact that not even head nurse applied for the group. When I was talking to her about that she told me that nurses are afraid of me. Not me personally but of a psychologist. And as I said before I can understand this in the light of not wanting to share personal issues. But it is harder for me to realize what gets in the way of accepting work related support. After all they expressed the need in the first place. Regarding work related problems I do believe that the fact I know the environment they work in I can better understand and consult some issues.
    Any thoughts about that? Is this something you think I rather stop trying to do? It is hard for me to accept that since I see nurses in distress, lot of young nurses leaving the ward, having troubles dealing with parents. I see so much I could do to help. Is there something that would stop you from consulting with mental health professional about work related issues?

  11. by   Julius Seizure
    Quote from manjar
    Having this in mind I soon started offering consultations about dealing with parents, working with children in distress, talking about troubles at work, dealing with mistakes at work, enhancing communication skills, stress management etc. What happened was almost no one responded.
    Here is how I feel about those topics:

    I might be willing to talk about dealing with difficult parents/families or enhancing communication skills in a more informal conversation.

    Needing to talk about working with children in distress feels a little less comfortable because as an experienced PICU nurse, I should already know how to do that. Admitting that I might not be good at it feels like I am showing weakness at my job. It would be fine at a conference or seminar or something...but its weird as a formal one-on-one "therapy" thing.

    Stress management feels too personal to discuss with someone from my job.

    Talking about work troubles or mistakes that have been made feels way too risky to discuss with someone from my job.

    Are these formal meeting times? You might have more luck by making it less formal. We occasionally have a child psychologist consult on our patients, and she is receptive to hearing staff frustrations but its never a formal thing. Just at the nurses station, "how are you doing caring for that difficult family?" type of thing.
  12. by   Julius Seizure
    Quote from manjar
    We also tried group settings for mentioned topics, we ensured it was in their work time and nurses could pick which other members they want in their group.
    When you say that you made sure it was in their work time, I am not sure what you mean? Do you mean that during the nurse's 12 hour shift, they can meet with you on their lunch break? Schedule a time at 2pm? Do you schedule a group meeting a 2:00pm for everyone to come to?

    I can imagine that if its during lunch, nobody wants to give up their 30 minutes of escape from thinking about the hospital (if they even get that). If its at some other time in the shift, do they really feel like they have time to step away? I can't imaging feeling like I had time to just go chat with a psychologist in the middle of my work day.
  13. by   MelEpiRN
    I know many would disagree with me, (which would make me happy, to be honest) but I think it's also a culture of the current workforce. I organize educational opportunities (many offer CE credit) as part of my job as well as community outreach programs and I get almost zero participation. The only time people show up is if you make it super-mandatory (uh-huh, I said it- mandatory doesn't mean diddly anymore) and pay them. You'd think nurses would want to learn, keep up to date with new info, etc, but in my experience people just want to come in, do the job they're [under]paid for, and go home. No extra, even if it helps them.