The Surgeon General’s new “Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace” offers a few best practices to help employers ensure the happiness and healthiness of their workers. Here’s what healthcare leaders should know about the framework, and how they can leverage its recommendations to better support the mental health of nurses and clinicians in their workforce.
5 Ways to Support the Mental Health of Nurses & Clinical Workers
Available as an official website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the new tool from the Surgeon General’s office is designed to give employers a framework to “develop, institutionalize, and update policies, processes, and practices that best support the mental health and well-being of all workers.”
“As we recover from the worst of the pandemic, we have an opportunity and the power to make workplaces engines for mental health and well-being, and this Surgeon General’s Framework shows us how we can start,” United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy announced in a news release.
And of course, there are few places where protecting workers’ wellbeing is more important than in the healthcare workplace. A HealthLeaders analysis of the framework points out that the need is even greater for post-acute care providers as they struggle with an unprecedented staffing shortage.
“Post-acute leaders should take notice of this framework and implement it into their own organizations for a healthy workforce and successful business,” writes Jasmyne Ray in the analysis.
To help them do so, the framework offers five hey areas of focus: physical safety, community, work/life balance, validation and opportunities for growth. Let’s take a closer look at how each of these factors can help promote the mental health of nurses and other healthcare workers.
#1: ‘Protection from Harm’
Offering an environment that supports the mental health of nurses and clinical workers means making sure they feel safe in a physical sense. According to the framework, this means focusing on “workplace physical and psychological safety,” which includes not only offering workers adequate opportunities to rest but also normalizing the need to pay attention to mental health throughout the workday.
#2: ‘Connection and Community’
At CareerStaff, we’ve long advocated the importance of maintaining a positive culture in the clinical workplace — a goal that aligns with the framework’s emphasis on nurturing “positive social interaction and relationships.” Giving everyone on staff a sense of belonging and inclusion can not only ensure healthier workers, but also promote better work with improve collaboration and team building.
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#3: ‘Work-Life Harmony’
The framework also offers insights into how employers can actively improve their staff’s work/life balance. Offering flexible scheduling and as much paid leave as possible aren’t always easy options — but they’re both effective ways to keep workers happy. And letting them work with greater autonomy promotes helps promote trust in their leaders, too, which can also increase job satisfaction.
> Looking for other ways to build a better culture? Don’t miss our guide to avoiding toxic personalities in the workplace
#4: ‘Mattering at Work’
Everyone likes to feel that they’re essential workers — especially those who really are doing essential work! “People want to know that they matter to those around them and that their work matters,” as Ray puts it.
With day-to-day tasks that are more stressful and emotional than most other jobs, validation is critical for the mental health of nurses and clinical workers. Building recognition and reward into the culture, and engaging workers in the decision-making process when possible, are just a couple of the recommended ways to offer that validation.
> Take a Deeper Dive: How to Celebrate the Difference Makers in Your Facility
#5: ‘Opportunities for Growth’
Another theme we’re always happy to expound upon here at the CareerStaff Healthcare Staffing Blog is the importance of professional development opportunities for clinical workers. And the Surgeon General’s new mental health framework supports that initiative, advising employers to “promote practices that better assure opportunities for growth” through training, education, mentoring, feedback, and other proven methods.
“When organizations create more opportunities for workers to accomplish goals based on their skills and growth, workers become more optimistic about their abilities and more enthusiastic about contributing to the organization,” as the announcement points out.
Support the Mental Health of Nurses & Clinicians with Our Workforce Services
At CareerStaff, we’re proud to be at the forefront of thought leadership for the clinical workplace. As the providers of extensive healthcare workforce solutions ranging from travel nurse staffing to comprehensive managed services, we’ve spent decades building the expertise to best help organizations keep workers safe, happy and healthy — and all while providing the best possible patient care.
Whether it’s finding contingency staff to give your workers more time off, or healthcare MSP services to streamline administrative tasks for improved efficiency and lower costs, we’ve got the solutions you need to optimize your workforce and, in the process, best support the mental health of nurses, therapists, pharmacists, and everyone else on your team.