Friday, 25 November 2016

'Mental health day' is nothing to celebrate

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

We are well used to celebrating a wide range of - so-called - 'days' these days; for example, World Cancer Day, World Diabetes days and so on. When I first saw the title of this article I assumed that it was about celebrating Mental Health Day. However, this study from Australia by Scott et al (2016) titled: '‘Mental health day’ sickness absence amongst nurses and midwives: workplace, workforce, psychosocial and health characteristics' and published in JAN is about something very different.

Due to the stress of the job many nurses get to the point where they simply have to take a day off and this is colloquially referred to as taking a 'mental health day'. The aim of this study was: '(t)o examine the workforce, workplace, psychosocial and health characteristics of nurses and midwives in relation to their reported use of sickness absence described as ‘mental health days’.' A sample of over 5000 nurses in New South Wales was surveyed.

It transpires - amongst other things - that younger nurses, those working shifts where they found it hard to sit down for a while and also those who smoked, had been admited to hospital recently or had mental health problems were more likelty to be absent on the basis of a 'mental health day'. The authors concluded: 'Study findings indicate that nurses and midwives who take mental health days have specific workplace and health profiles which offer healthcare organizations opportunities to implement workforce measures to ameliorate their need to do this and reduce such absences. Study findings indicate characteristics that should flag consideration of how such nurses and midwives might be supported to retain their health and well-being and their positive presence in the workforce.'

You can listen to this as a podcast

Reference

LAMONT S., BRUNERO S., PERRY L., DUFFIELD C., SIBBRITT D., GALLAGHER R. & NICHOLLS R. (2016) ‘Mental health day’ sickness absence amongst nurses and midwives: workplace, workforce, psychosocial and health characteristics. Journal of Advanced Nursing. doi: 10.1111/jan.13212

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