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Support for nurses experiencing mental health, drug issues

Aged care nurses who are dealing with mental health or drug and alcohol issues are being encouraged to avail of a new free national service providing confidential advice and referral.

The Nurse & Midwife Support telephone and online service, which launched this month, was established after a survey of 10,000 nurses and midwives found many had either experienced a health issue themselves or witnessed their colleagues dealing with one.

Most nurses said that current health support services could be improved while many were unaware of mental health, drug and alcohol support services available to help them.

The new service, which is run by the addiction treatment and research organisation Turning Point, is manned by an experienced team who can provide advice and referral to nurses on a range of health and wellbeing issues.

Program director Anthony Denham said while nurses are recognised as caregivers they can also need support facing their own challenges, which can include work stress, mental health concerns or alcohol and drug related issues.

While the service is targeted primarily at registered and enrolled nurses, a spokesperson told Australian Ageing Agenda that personal care workers who called with a concern about a nursing colleague would be provided with initial information and referral.

The service will also provide support to nursing students, educators, employers and concerned family members.

Mark Aitken, an experienced aged care nurse working for NM Support, said the educational element would help to better inform workers about how to support colleagues who might be facing health issues and help them address those concerns.

“Prevention is better than cure, and it is important that we continue to work hard to destigmatise the need for any nurse in Australia to ask for help,” he said.

To access the service visit the website or call 1800 667 877.

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