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Nurses’ work stress can trigger ‘catastrophic loss of self-esteem’

High-pressured workplace stress, as well as unkindness and incivility, can lead to loss of self-esteem and staff absences, says mental health nurse lead

High-pressured workplace stress, as well as unkindness and incivility, can lead to loss of self-esteem and staff absences, says mental health nurse lead

A mental health nurse has offered tips for looking after nurses’ well-being, warning stress caused by pressured work environments can trigger a ‘catastrophic loss of self-esteem’ and lead to more staff absences.

Johnathan MacLennan was speaking to nurses at RCNi’s Learning Disability Practice webinar earlier this month about how best to protect their mental health and well-being post-COVID.

Tips for better mental well-being include being kind and self-care

Mr MacLennan, who is the head of programme for mental health, learning disabilities and dementia at NHS

High-pressured workplace stress, as well as unkindness and incivility, can lead to loss of self-esteem and staff absences, says mental health nurse lead

Being kind to colleagues helps improve nurses’ mental health and well-being
Being kind to colleagues helps improve nurses’ mental health and well-being. Picture: iStock

A mental health nurse has offered tips for looking after nurses’ well-being, warning stress caused by pressured work environments can trigger a ‘catastrophic loss of self-esteem’ and lead to more staff absences.

Johnathan MacLennan was speaking to nurses at RCNi’s Learning Disability Practice webinar earlier this month about how best to protect their mental health and well-being post-COVID.

Tips for better mental well-being include being kind and self-care

Mr MacLennan, who is the head of programme for mental health, learning disabilities and dementia at NHS Education for Scotland, offered some tips for better mental health, including being kind to each other and patients, taking time for self-care and speaking out when disagreements arise.

He warned chronic stress created by high-pressured work environments, as well as unkindness and ‘incivility’ at work, can lead to a loss of self-esteem.

‘This risks a reduction in compassion and the ability to emotionally regulate yourself and your staff, which can result in poorer patient care and also increase the risk of staff absence and anxiety,’ he added.

‘That frustration and anger can then start to create [negative] situations and trigger a catastrophic loss of self-esteem, which can then trigger more serious behaviours.’

Crucial that nurses are able to speak up and have a safe space to voice concerns

Crucial that nurses are able to speak up and have a safe space to voice concerns
Picture: iStock

He explained the difference between ‘good disagreement’ and ‘violent agreement’, adding that it was important for nurses to speak up when they disagreed with managers and to have a safe space to voice their concerns .

‘What that requires is psychological safety and the ability to speak out and be listened to, and know that the information that you’re sharing is going to be heard and used appropriately.’

He called for a ‘culture of exchange and dialogue’ within NHS organisations, adding that showing ‘vulnerability, humility and fallibility’ was important in creating a better working environment.

Mr MacLennan also spoke about the importance of kindness, with many nurses saying kindness to them meant listening to others, being listened to, compassion and care, being non-judgemental and mutual respect.

On the other hand, experiencing unkindness made nurses feel useless, empty, frustrated, sad, undervalued and attacked.

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