Letter to the editor: Help school nurses heal from COVID’s mental health impact

I would like to bring attention to survey results that asked 8,000 school nurses 121 questions about their mental health during COVID. The survey, a collaborative effort between the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Association of School Nurses, was titled “Mental Health of School Nurses in the United States during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

School nurse Adrianne Mercier administers a COVID vaccine to Wanda Sprague, an Auburn substitute teacher, at a teacher vaccination clinic at Connors Elementary School in Lewiston in 2021. In March, a national survey of 8,000 school nurses found that 48 percent reported at least one adverse mental health condition.  Andree Kehn/Sun Journal, File

Forty-eight percent felt bullied, threatened or harassed; 30 percent noted post-traumatic stress disorder; 24 percent felt depressed; 22 percent felt anxiety; 39 percent experienced stigma or discrimination; 24 percent received job-related threats, and almost half (48 percent) reported at least one adverse mental health condition in the two weeks prior to completing the survey in March 2022. The data points are sobering and sad and show an urgency for supporting school nurses.

As a society, we have an obligation to support the folks who are caring for our children. We need something urgently and immediately, and this one is easy to do. I’d like to thank every parent, staff member or administrator who has thanked us and acknowledged our efforts. Those who haven’t thought of doing so should please consider giving their child’s nurse a smile and a “thank you.”

To those who went out of their way to be unkind or threatening, please don’t do that anymore. Maybe try to follow what is proudly displayed in a fourth-grade hallway: “In a world when you can be anything, just be kind.”

School nurses are depending on your kindness and grace while they themselves heal and tend to your children, all 56 million of them.

Judy Doran, R.N.
Eliot


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