Stress, Depression, Suicide and Mental Health Resources

Nursing is one of the most stress-filled jobs as our actions or lack thereof may lead to a patient injury or death. Top work stressors identified by nurses are listed along with resources to counteract stress, prevent burnout, depression and suicide. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

Stress, Depression, Suicide and Mental Health Resources

The American Nurses Association 2011 health and safety survey involving 4,800+ nurses reported that 67% nurses worked mandatory or unscheduled overtime. Over seventy percent (70.5%) of nurses surveyed indicated 'acute/chronic effects of stress and overwork' as one of their top three health and safety concerns. They demonstrated that today's nurses are overburdened, overworked and overstressed. 59 % were concerned about a severe back injury due to lack safe handling practices in their facility while 45% concerned about contracting a potentially deadly disease. other concerns of being assaulted (24.7%), developing a latex allergy (20.9%), or becoming involved in a car accident because of fatigue after a shift (18.8%) all contribute to the burdening stress nurses face in the workplace.

Ten years later, our allnurses members are still voicing these concerns. additionally, they report stress over deliberate understaffing of hospital units to met "staffing grid" financial budget (without patient acuity adequately addressed); client "customer service" expectations without regard for patient civility behavior expectations while hospitalized; and focus on quality "core measures" with time limits on various aspects of care delivery.

Finally in December 2011, the Joint Commission issued Sentinel event alert issue 48: health care worker fatigue and patient safety.


The link between health care worker fatigue and adverse events is well documented, with a substantial number of studies indicating that the practice of extended work hours contributes to high levels of worker fatigue and reduced productivity. These studies and others show that fatigue increases the risk of adverse events, compromises patient safety, and increases risk to personal safety and well-being. While it is acknowledged that many factors contribute to fatigue, including but not limited to insufficient staffing and excessive workloads, the purpose of this sentinel event alert is to address the effects and risks of an extended work day and of cumulative days of extended work hours.

Please use this resource list to help maintain and improve your stress levels and mental health.

Stress management

The American Holistic Nurses Association: Holistic stress management for nurses

Mindfulness based stress reduction

What is depression?

Clinical depression is more that just feeling "blue" from time to time. it is a serious condition that affects a person's mind, body, and spirit and impacts every aspect of one's life. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions affecting almost 10% of the population each year, that is 15 million persons.

Depression can be caused by factors related to one's biology (body chemistry and brain function), genetics (heredity), environment (stress, trauma, etc.), or medical conditions (physical problems, disease, etc.)

Resources about depression ...if you are suicidal, you are most likely experiencing some form of depression. This is good news, because depression can be treated, helping you feel better.

Suicide prevention information

The following info compiled from

Consider this statement:


"Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain."

That's all it's about. You are not a bad person, or crazy, or weak, or flawed, because you feel suicidal. It doesn't even mean that you really want to die - it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. If I start piling weights on your shoulders, you will eventually collapse if I add enough weights... no matter how much you want to remain standing. Willpower has nothing to do with it. Of course you would cheer yourself up, if you could.

Don't accept it if someone tells you, "that's not enough to be suicidal about." There are many kinds of pain that may lead to suicide. whether or not the pain is bearable may differ from person to person. what might be bearable to someone else, may not be bearable to you. the point at which the pain becomes unbearable depends on what kinds of coping resources you have. individuals vary greatly in their capacity to withstand pain.

When pain exceeds pain-coping resources, suicidal feelings are the result. Suicide is neither wrong nor right; it is not a defect of character; it is morally neutral. It is simply an imbalance of pain versus coping resources.

You can survive suicidal feelings if you do either of two things: (1) find a way to reduce your pain, or (2) find a way to increase your coping resources. both are possible....

There are people out there who can be with you in this horrible time, and will not judge you, or argue with you, or send you to a hospital, or try to talk you out of how badly you feel. They will simply care for you. Find one of them. now. Use your 24 hours, or your week, and tell someone what's going on with you. It is okay to ask for help. try:

  • US: are you in crisis? call 1-800-273-talk or chat
  • Teenagers can call covanent house 1-800-999-9999 4pm-8pm est
  • Look in the front of your phone book for a crisis line
  • Call a psychotherapist
  • Carefully choose a friend or a minister or rabbi, someone who is likely to listen
  • Call your Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

but don't give yourself the additional burden of trying to deal with this alone. Just talking about how you got to where you are, releases an awful lot of the pressure, and it might be just the additional coping resource you need to regain your balance.

Read this if you are suicidal.

Help if you are suicidal now.

How to help yourself when you're feeling suicidal

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

International suicide helplines

Other topics on this subject:

  • How serious is our condition? ..."he only took 15 pills, he wasn't really serious..." if others are making you feel like you're just trying to get attention... read this.
  • Why is it so hard for us to recover from being suicidal? ...while most suicidal people recover and go on, others struggle with suicidal thoughts and feelings for months or even years. suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd).
  • Recovery from grief and loss ...has anyone significant in your life recently died? you would be in good company... many suicidal people have recently suffered a loss.
  • The stigma of suicide that prevents suicidal people from recovering: we are not only fighting our own pain, but the pain that others inflict on us... and that we ourselves add to. stigma is a huge complicating factor in suicidal feelings.

Do you know someone who is suicidal?

Would you like to be able to help, if the situation arises? Learn what to do, so that you can make the situation better, not worse.

The samaritans /befrienders are a charity founded in 1953, which exists to provide confidential emotional support to any person, who is suicidal or despairing; and to increase public awareness of issues around suicide and depression.

Trained volunteers provide this service 24 hours every day. it is free. you are guaranteed absolute confidentiality and that you will not be judged. they are not professional counselors or psychotherapists. these are caring volunteers who have been trained in the art of listening and empathy.

You can talk to a trained befrienders volunteer. Website lists centers and telephone helplines around the world. As of this writing, 50 countries were listed, and the website is available in 15 languages.

Mental health disorders, resources and preventive strategies

Success strategies for nursing students with mental illness

Mental health: medlineplus - national library of medicine

Child mental health: medlineplus

Home Health Columnist / Guide

40 year(s) of experience in Home Care, Vents, Telemetry, Home infusion. Homecare Guru & Nursing Advocate. Loving Hubby + 2 adult sons. Needlepoint addict --watch out for needle sticks.

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Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

Thank you so much for this article, and the resources you've provided to us. It's sad that so many nurses suffer from depression and its related complications. Perhaps one day TPTB will finally recognize that it's not the nurses who are to blame for the high turnover rate in this line of work, but stress, overwork, threats of every kind, and being treated like third-graders by management. Admiration, we get; respect, not so much.

Specializes in ICU.

Love this article, I think it will really help a lot of people out to have these resources all together in once place instead of having to scramble to find help when they are in crisis mode. Thank you NRSKaren!

wow great resources thank you..

Thank you for this article,I just got downsized in my nursing job,I was burned out and depressed and had thoughts of suicide where I was placed in a crisis unit for 3.5 weeks,I am diagnosed with post traumatic stress and major depression,I had lost my motheralso.I thought I was the only one with this problem,I am glad the joint comission has made this a sentinel event.I am 58 years old and I have been the nurse,the CNA and house supervisor all at the same time,called me out of bed at midnight on my nights off to go to work,now I am looking at 2 partime jobs giving injections and homehealthPRN so I can go to school to be a paralegal and onto socialwork and get out of this nonappreciated stressful job that I love so much. july 11,2012 by KathyDean,nurse supervisor,my birthday is today,I am celebrating life!!!!!!!!!