Nurses suffer burn-out, psychological distress in COVID fight: association

By Cecile Mantovani
GENEVA (Reuters) - Many nurses who care for COVID-19 patients suffer from burnout or mental health problems, and many have been mistreated or discriminated against outside of work, according to the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
The supply of personal protective equipment for nurses and other health workers in some nursing homes is still inadequate. This is World Mental Health Day on Saturday.
"We are extremely concerned about the impact of mental health on nurses," Howard Catton, a British nurse who is the managing director of the ICN, told Reuters Television at the association's headquarters in Geneva.
"Our recent survey of national nursing associations shows that more than 70% of them (the associations) reported that nurses have experienced violence or discrimination and are therefore very concerned about extreme cases of mental distress," he said.
The number is based on responses from around a quarter of national nursing associations in more than 130 countries.
Nurses face a wide range of problems that affect their mental health, including physical and verbal abuse, Catton said.
"There are nurses who have faced discrimination, where their landlord has not renewed their rental contract for their apartment or who cannot get childcare for their children," he said, without giving any information about physical or verbal abuse.
ICN has campaigned for better protection and better working conditions for nurses on the front lines of the pandemic.
"We are still seeing problems with the supply of personal protective equipment. Improvements have been made, particularly in hospitals," said Catton.
However, some nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Europe and North and South America are still lacking supplies, he said, citing the survey of members.
The World Health Organization announced last Monday that services to mentally ill and substance abuse patients around the world were suspended during the pandemic, and COVID-19 is likely to cause many more problems.

(Reporting by Cecile Mantovani; writing by Stephanie Nebehay and editing by Giles Elgood)

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