Navigating the World of Community Mental Health Nursing

There is little doubt that those who choose to commit themselves to the nursing profession are doing so out of generosity, selflessness, and a level of care that leaves lives changed. All of that applies to nurses at every level, but those who chose to spend their time assisting as mental health nurses have a unique set of challenges that, while they overlap with other fields, tend to demand some unusual measures and means by which to serve such patients.

For those who may be thinking about, or indeed may already be doing so, choosing such a career path the following is a brief collection of observations and tips by which to better navigate the world of community mental health nursing.

Community Mental Health Care: A Definition

Community mental health care is made up of a collection of certain approaches to care. Some of those are as follows: the practice of associating to patients in a broader socio-economic context; the treatment of individuals as well as a collective population; service through a systematic approach that maintains open access services, both individually based and in team scenarios; taking into account a long-term approach that envisions more of a life-based care perspective.

All of these and more need to be accomplished very often in a financially sustainable and sensitive way being that both the niche of this healthcare system and sometimes its clientele lacks the resources needed to provide for themselves. There is a high level of attitudes which are of a social justice nature that tends to lean into the specified care in contexts which very often demonstrate themselves as being played out for minority groups, the homeless, immigrant populations, and those of lesser economic means.

Comprehensively, this needs to be done in locations that make the service of those populations easily reachable from both a proximal and financial position.

Fundamental Causes of Community Mental Health

As with any industry there are categories which, when individualized, can better clarify the overarching idea and mission of particular organizations and ideas. The same can be said for community mental health services as provided by nurses.

Community mental health care that is done well makes a point of attending not only to people’s challenges or their disabilities but seeks to acknowledge and draw out what existing health and strength of mind or will that is already present.

By doing so nurses in this field have greater leverage by which to affect recovery and change. This is accomplished by tapping into the basic strengths and individual qualities that make up a person. By identifying these traits, it can be shown that what mental health issues do exist are only a part of the overall person. The amount of hope and courage that can result from this approach helps in the management and overcoming of specific challenges.

Community mental health, being that it relates to multiple individuals and their towns or provinces, means that there are not only plenty of career opportunities in psychiatric mental health care, but that such care purposefully gives its attention to those techniques and services which best attend communities in an individual and collective sense. It does so not just by approaching mental health from a psychiatric standpoint, although this is important, but through the interaction with topics that stem from environmental issues.

By studying and attending to the various factors which relate and impose themselves on the mental health of communities, there grows a deeper understanding of how to best care for and reverse the environmental effects that can contribute to individual mental health concerns. This is best accomplished through a network of services that counteract the ills created by the various aspects of that community.

Another important factor in community mental health is that it is most effective when its approaches serve the public through a combination of evidence-based medical approaches as well as psychiatric and ethically based techniques. The use of heavy data socio-economic data enables a border understanding for what contributes to the community mental health issues and thus creates clarity for how to comprehensively approach treatment. Nurses that are trained in this way have a much higher likelihood of caring for and empowering those that they are treating.


With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Empowering Patients and Families: The Role of Nurse Practitioners in Palliative Care

The role of a nurse practitioner (NP) offers various types of opportunities and experiences. While many NPs work from doctor’s offices or hospital floors, others focus on more specialized areas. One of these is caring for terminally ill and end-of-life patients as they navigate their palliative journey.

As with so many careers in medicine, being a palliative care NP comes with a range of challenges, demands, and responsibilities. Nevertheless, it can also be a valuable experience in empowering patients and families as they face an emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically significant part of their lives.

Let’s take a closer look at the role of nurse practitioners in palliative care.

Care Planning and Symptom Management

One of the most impactful ways NPs can empower patients and their families is by helping them develop care plans. The last thing many people navigating palliative care want is to have arrangements that affect their lives just dictated to them. Rather, NPs, with their empathetic skill sets and in-depth medical knowledge, can act as expert guides. They provide patients and families with practical advice that both serves medical and emotional needs.

Care planning, by its nature, has to be a meticulous process. After all, terminal illness treatment can be quite complex. NPs can start by making a thorough assessment of the patient’s current health condition. This considers how severe the symptoms of specific illnesses are, but also elements that affect their quality of life, such as range of motion, mobility, and general comfort. NPs can also then discuss what the patient’s palliative journey goals and concerns are.

This is where an NP’s professional and compassionate abilities can be particularly effective. They’ll need to find ways for the medical and personal needs of the patients — and in some instances, the families involved — to meet. If there are problems, such as the side effects of some medications clashing with patients’ quality of life requirements, they discuss the options with the patient. Being transparent about the consequences, challenges, and benefits of different care paths is essential for patients to make informed decisions.

From here, NPs can create a formal document of care and symptom management that is shared with other relevant care staff and specialist medical providers. Importantly, NPs can revisit the plan periodically with patients as their symptoms and preferences develop during their care. This ensures that there’s always a medically robust yet patient-centric approach to delivering services.

Maintaining Mental Wellness

Palliative care is an emotionally and psychologically challenging experience. It’s also important to recognize that there is a growing national mental health crisis. A combination of factors contributes to difficulties here, from the escalating price of psychological health care to the sense of stigma surrounding mental wellness. This may further exacerbate the intense mental and physical impact of the palliative journey. As a result, NPs’ attention and skills are not just directed toward managing patients’ physical symptoms, but also tending to their mental wellness needs.

This can begin with something as simple as regularly checking in with patients about their emotions, thoughts, and concerns. The empathy and compassion NPs bring to their roles can be vital in establishing meaningful connections and trust bonds that encourage patients to share their feelings. In some cases, NPs might act as a bridge between patients and the most relevant resources, such as therapists specializing in terminal illness care. However, with additional training, NPs can also offer therapeutic activities such as guided meditation.

That said, it’s equally important to recognize that NPs’ own mental states can impact their patients. There’s no denying that providing palliative care can be emotionally and psychologically turbulent at times, particularly given the empathetic bonds they forge with patients. If NPs’ mental wellness begins to suffer, this is not only detrimental to their own quality of life but may also impact the quality of the care they provide. It is, therefore, a key part of an NP’s responsibility to take steps to safeguard their wellness. This could include adopting self-care routines and perhaps regularly speaking to therapists about their experiences and feelings.

Streamlining Care Processes

Being able to provide patients with the most thorough and compassionate attention is an important part of being an NP in palliative care. Unfortunately, this can be quite difficult when there are various other tasks to attend to. As a result, one of the ways NPs are most effective is in establishing the most efficient approaches to the tasks that surround the palliative journey.

This may involve regular assessments of medical and administrative practices. Continuously evaluating and improving processes has a variety of benefits. It helps to highlight where there may be unnecessarily repetitive or menial actions that result in inefficiencies. It can also reveal where new technology and automated software tools might offer opportunities to streamline workflows. Not to mention that this type of frequent evaluation is a great way to ensure that NPs are both continuing to meet patients’ needs while maintaining regulatory compliance.

It’s not just NPs themselves that are key to streamlining care processes. Care collaborators, patients, and families can provide useful insights here. Each of these parties has different perspectives on the services provided and what may be influencing bottlenecks or disruptions. NPs lead the charge of carefully gathering and assessing data from these individuals and reviewing what they can adjust accordingly. In essence, this is another way in which NPs facilitate care collaborations that positively impact patients’ quality of life during the palliative journey.

Conclusion

The role of NPs in palliative care involves various medical and administrative duties. However, each of these components, alongside intense empathy and compassion, is geared toward ensuring the most patient-centric approach to care. Throughout each step of making care plans, streamlining processes, and supporting mental wellness, there’s a common thread of striving to offer guidance, comfort, and expertise for this difficult part of life. It’s not an easy career path, but with careful consideration and a strong sense of emotional intelligence, it can certainly be a rewarding one.


Image by Freepik


Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter. 


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Stress Relief Tips for Healthcare Workers

Up to 70% of healthcare workers feel stressed according to a newly released 2023 study. While having high amounts of stress isn’t good for anyone, it can result in unique consequences for healthcare workers, says Dr. Jenna Sage. This makes it especially important for individuals in healthcare roles to find ways to lower their stress levels.

Dr. Sage is Director of Organizational Wellness and Wellbeing at Ultimate Medical Academy, a nonprofit healthcare educational institution that offers a variety of diploma and degree programs both online and at its Clearwater, Florida campus. In addition to helping employees tend to their mental health, she also has a passion for helping healthcare workers reduce their stress—especially post-pandemic.

Why Stress Relief is Critical for Healthcare Workers

“A lot of healthcare workers are naturally nurturing and empathetic,” says Dr. Sage, “so they can struggle to regulate their own stress and wellness.” Put another way, you are so intent on helping your patients that you forget to help yourself. Dr. Sage compares this to the airlines’ instructions to put your mask on before putting a mask on someone else if the plane experiences issues. You can’t help anyone else if you don’t look after yourself first.

Plus, being in a healthcare role, you’re also exposed to the stress being experienced by your patients and their families. This can impact your stress levels further. Not to mention, patients can feel if you’re stressed and the last thing most healthcare workers want is to pass their stress onto others.

Not all stress is bad for you. The problem exists when stress exists consistently over several weeks or months at a time. This is referred to as chronic stress, which research indicates puts individuals at a greater risk of developing a variety of physical and mental health disorders. Chronic stress can even change brain structure, negatively affecting cognitive function and memory.

“Stress should be a temporary thing,” explains Dr. Sage. “The consequence of not relieving stress or having those resilience mechanisms is we lose that sense of balance. Stress is like a warning light to us. It’s really our body’s reminder to regulate ourselves and to find balance. When you start to see signs of stress in your physical body, you’re not sleeping as much, or you’re more agitated, it’s your body telling you that you need to regulate your stress.”

Effective Ways to Relieve Stress Quickly

If you feel like your warning light is going off and your body is out of balance, Dr. Sage shares that there are several things you can do to reduce your feelings of stress quickly, yet effectively. “These are going to sound hokey at first,” she admits, “but they really are the strategies that work.”

The first strategy that Dr. Sage recommends is breathing. “Take intentional deep breaths,” suggests Dr. Sage, which involves taking a series of deep inhales and exhales. Other relaxing breathing techniques include inhaling and exhaling to a count of four and box breathing. Box breathing is when you inhale, hold the breath, exhale, then hold before inhaling again.

Another way to relieve stress quickly is with kinesthetic activities, also referred to as hands-on activities. This includes doing things such as singing, moving your body, shaking it out, and walking outside. “The movement processes the chemicals involved with stress out of the body,” says Dr. Sage.

Stress also has a way of depleting your energy. What’s the solution when you’re feeling low on energy due to increased stress? “We have to find the things that put the juice in our batteries,” says Dr. Sage, adding that it’s important to recognize that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else.

For example, while you might find that time with friends helps increase your energy levels while reducing your stress, others may experience the same effect by spending less time with friends. Another example is music. Some people play loud music as a way to de-stress while, for others, it’s soft music that provides this effect. Consider what makes you feel less stressed, then do it when you feel your stress levels start to rise.

It can also help to keep a positive mindset. We simply feel better when we’re positive, but positive thinking might have health advantages as well. One is that it may protect against inflammatory damage caused by stress, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Other benefits include contributing to better decision-making and a greater focus on long-term goals.

Being positive is beneficial to patients too. “When you have a positive mindset, you pass that on to the people around you,” says Dr. Sage. So, you can help your patients experience less stress and more positivity by keeping your own mindset in a positive space.

Professional Help Available to Healthcare Workers

If you try to relieve your stress but nothing seems to work, it may be time to seek professional help. Dr. Sage recommends starting within your own healthcare system by accessing your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if one is available. Several EAPs include mental health benefits. Ask if yours is one.

“There are also a lot of on-demand apps that are available at a low cost or discounted rate for healthcare workers,” she adds. Download one and you have access to a mental health professional anytime—and from anywhere—that you need them.

Don’t forget to ask your friends for recommendations. One of them might be seeing a therapist that they’re happy with and would be glad to give you their name.

You may even find support in a social media group. “I belong to social support groups on Facebook, and it’s been life-changing,” says Dr. Sage. Before joining a group, consider whether you have to answer questions to gain entry. If so, this is a sign that it may be moderated, which can lead to more respectful responses. Also, think about whether the comments on the page align with your beliefs. If they don’t, look for another group instead.

“There are a lot of times when we experience higher levels of stress because we care, because we want to do good, because we want people to be well,” says Dr. Sage. But there is one thing she wants you to remember: “You deserve just as much compassion as you give to your patients and their families. You’re supposed to care about yourself first.” Finding ways to relieve your stress can be a good first step in this process.


Christina M. DeBusk is a freelance writer who uses her passion for health and wellness to help healthcare businesses and professionals better reach their target audience.


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

The Growing Demand for Teletherapy: Exploring the Benefits and Challenges of Virtual Mental Health Services

The landscape of mental health support has undergone significant transformation over the years. Traditional in-person therapy, a longstanding pillar of psychological care, has witnessed a notable evolution with the advent of teletherapy. This digital medium has emerged as a response to the contemporary challenges posed by our fast-paced world, offering new avenues for delivering psychological assistance.

Recent statistics highlight the increasing preference for teletherapy, with its usage surging over the past decade, surpassing traditional in-person sessions. In 2020, Doctor On Demand, a telehealth provider, reported a 50% surge in new teletherapy patients within six weeks—a demand surpassing the peak of COVID-19-related anxiety in March and April.

Understanding Teletherapy: Mechanics and Evolution

Definition and Scope:

Teletherapy, also called online therapy, virtual therapy, or e-therapy, encompasses a range of therapeutic interventions delivered through digital communication channels. These channels primarily include video, audio, and text-based interactions, bridging the geographical gap between therapists and clients. 

In teletherapy, therapists and clients engage in therapeutic conversations and interventions via secure platforms and applications, eliminating the need for physical presence in a traditional therapy setting. This medium allows individuals to access mental health support from the comfort of their environments, addressing concerns such as accessibility, privacy, and convenience.

Modes of Teletherapy

Video-Based Teletherapy:

Video-based teletherapy involves real-time visual interactions between therapists and clients through video conferencing. This modality replicates face-to-face sessions, enabling therapists to read nonverbal cues and expressions. Pros include a closer semblance to traditional therapy and the ability to establish rapport, but potential drawbacks involve technical glitches, privacy concerns, and the requirement for a stable internet connection.

Phone-Based Teletherapy:

Phone-based teletherapy relies on audio conversations conducted over the phone. This mode offers accessibility and convenience, requiring only a working phone line. Clients might feel more comfortable sharing sensitive topics verbally, but limitations include the absence of visual cues and potential communication misinterpretations.

Text-Based Teletherapy:

Text-based teletherapy occurs through written exchanges, often using messaging platforms or email. This mode allows clients to articulate thoughts more thoughtfully and offers flexibility in scheduling. However, it lacks real-time interaction and nonverbal cues and may hinder the establishment of immediate rapport.

Benefits of Teletherapy: Expanding Horizons

The benefits of teletherapy contribute to a transformative shift in mental health care, offering flexibility, accessibility, and customization that traditional in-person therapy might struggle to achieve. As technology continues to evolve, the following advantages will further shape the landscape of mental health support and widen its reach.

Enhanced Accessibility and Convenience:

  • Transcending Geographical Barriers: Teletherapy eliminates the need for clients to be near their therapists. Individuals residing in remote or underserved areas gain access to mental health support that may have been previously inaccessible due to geographical constraints. This is particularly significant for those in rural regions or countries lacking mental health infrastructure.
  • Flexibility of Scheduling: Teletherapy accommodates various time zones and busy lifestyles. Clients and therapists can schedule sessions at times that suit both parties, promoting continuity of care. This flexibility is valuable for professionals, caregivers, or individuals with irregular schedules.

Anonymity and Stigma Reduction:

  • Open Discussion of Sensitive Topics: Virtual sessions foster a sense of anonymity, making it easier for clients to discuss sensitive or embarrassing topics. This reduced fear of judgment can lead to more honest and open conversations, enhancing the therapeutic process and outcomes.
  • Engagement for Marginalized Communities: Teletherapy can reduce the stigma of seeking mental health care within specific cultural or conservative contexts. Marginalized communities, where mental health issues might carry a solid social stigma, find a safe space to access support without the fear of being recognized or judged within their communities.

Broadening Therapist Selection and Expertise:

  • Global Pool of Therapists: Teletherapy transcends geographical boundaries, allowing clients to choose from a diverse global pool of therapists. This widens the options available for individuals seeking specific therapeutic approaches, cultural understandings, or languages that may not be prevalent in their local area.
  • Ease of Finding Specialized Help: Virtual platforms facilitate finding therapists with specialized expertise. Clients can easily search for professionals specializing in their concerns, such as trauma, LGBTQ+ issues, or specific therapeutic modalities. This tailored approach enhances the likelihood of receiving adequate treatment.

Challenges of Teletherapy: Navigating Complexities

Technology-Related Hurdles:

Teletherapy faces potential challenges rooted in technology. Disparities in internet connectivity can hinder access for individuals in remote areas or those with limited resources. The reliability of internet connections may impact session quality, causing disruptions and communication delays. 

Moreover, technical issues such as audio/video malfunctions or platform glitches can disrupt the therapy flow, potentially affecting the therapeutic alliance between the client and therapist. Overcoming these hurdles necessitates technological literacy and contingency plans to address unexpected disruptions.

Establishing Therapeutic Rapport:

Building a strong therapeutic rapport is essential in any therapy setting but presents unique challenges in the virtual realm. The absence of non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, can hinder therapists’ ability to gauge clients’ emotions and reactions accurately. 

Therapists must employ alternative strategies to establish trust, such as active listening, clarifying client feelings, and encouraging open communication. Developing these techniques helps compensate for the limitations of the digital medium, ensuring that the therapeutic connection remains robust and effective.

Ethical and Privacy Considerations:

Ethical and privacy concerns become more intricate in the online therapy landscape. Ensuring the security of client data and maintaining confidentiality is paramount, given the digital nature of the interactions. Therapists must employ encrypted communication platforms, conduct sessions in private settings, and educate clients on best practices for safeguarding their personal information. 

Additionally, therapists must navigate issues like establishing the identity of clients in virtual environments and addressing potential breaches of confidentiality due to technical vulnerabilities. Adhering to strict ethical guidelines and staying updated on the latest privacy regulations helps create a secure and trustworthy digital therapeutic space.

Efficacy and Clinical Considerations: Evidence and Adaptation

Comparative Effectiveness:

The efficacy of teletherapy versus traditional in-person therapy has been extensively studied. Research consistently shows that teletherapy is as effective as in-person therapy for various mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, trauma, and substance use disorders. Teletherapy excels in providing access to care for individuals who may face geographical or physical barriers, enhancing treatment engagement, and offering flexibility in scheduling. However, the efficacy might vary based on individual preferences, the severity of the condition, and the quality of the therapeutic relationship established through the virtual medium.

Adapting Therapeutic Approaches:

Therapists must adapt their approaches to optimize outcomes in the virtual environment. For instance, addressing rapport-building challenges can involve incorporating icebreakers, active listening techniques, and explicitly encouraging clients to share their emotions. Therapists can employ screen-sharing to visualize concepts, use digital tools for mindfulness exercises, and integrate video-based exposure therapy for anxiety disorders. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can effectively translate into teletherapy, focusing on structured goal-setting and skill-building. Therapists must also pay special attention to screen fatigue and encourage clients to maintain healthy boundaries between therapy and personal life.

Innovative practices include integrating virtual reality technology for exposure therapy, utilizing AI-driven tools for mood tracking, and implementing asynchronous text-based interventions for ongoing support between sessions. The virtual setting offers opportunities for clients to practice skills in real-life contexts and receive immediate feedback, enhancing the therapeutic process. Nonetheless, therapists must remain attuned to clients’ responses and adjust interventions as needed, ensuring that the tailored approach effectively achieves desired therapeutic outcomes.

Future Implications and Innovations: Pathways Forward

As teletherapy continues to evolve, its integration with technology, expanded accessibility, and innovative approaches are set to redefine how mental health care is delivered and experienced. This transformation holds promise in addressing existing limitations and ensuring that quality mental health support is available to those who need it, regardless of their location or circumstances.

Integration into Mainstream Mental Health Care:

Teletherapy is poised to become a staple within mainstream mental health services. As society embraces digital interactions, teletherapy’s accessibility, convenience, and effectiveness will likely lead to its broader adoption. Mental health organizations and institutions are increasingly incorporating teletherapy into their offerings, expanding the reach of mental health support.

Regulatory frameworks are evolving to accommodate virtual services, further solidifying teletherapy’s place within the mental health landscape. This integration will complement traditional in-person therapy, providing clients various options that suit their preferences and needs.

Technological Advancements:

Cutting-edge technologies are shaping the future of teletherapy, promising even more engaging and effective interventions. Virtual reality (VR) applications can simulate real-world environments for exposure therapy, helping clients confront their fears within a controlled setting. AI-assisted tools can analyze client data to provide personalized insights and suggest tailored interventions, enhancing therapist-client collaboration. Predictive analytics might help identify potential relapses or deteriorations, allowing for timely interventions. These innovations can improve therapeutic outcomes by offering more immersive, data-driven, individualized treatment experiences.

Improved Accessibility and Affordability:

Teletherapy can potentially address current accessibility and affordability challenges within mental health care. By eliminating geographical constraints, individuals in underserved or rural areas can access specialized therapists and interventions. Reduced overhead costs associated with physical facilities can lead to cost savings, translating to more affordable client services. Teletherapy’s flexibility also means clients can engage in therapy without taking extended time off work or navigating transportation hurdles. These factors combined can contribute to democratizing mental health care, making it more accessible to a broader range of individuals.

Final Thoughts

Teletherapy has emerged as a transformative force in mental health care, offering a range of advantages that address diverse needs. Its ability to transcend geographical barriers, reduce stigma, and broaden therapist selection has democratized access to support. However, persistent challenges such as technological hurdles, rapport-building complexities, and ethical considerations underscore the need for ongoing efforts to refine this evolving approach.

As mental health professionals navigate the complexities of virtual interactions, it is essential to recognize the potential of teletherapy as a complementary tool rather than a replacement for traditional therapy. Incorporating teletherapy into practice can expand options for clients while maintaining the highest standards of care. To achieve this, sustained research and innovation are paramount. We must continue to explore the effectiveness of teletherapy across various conditions, refine therapeutic techniques, and harness emerging technologies for optimized outcomes.

 


Shauna Larson, a passionate mental wellness advocate. For the last five years, she employs her personal experience and deep understanding of mental health to illuminate the complexities and challenges that many face every day. Her thoughtful insights and relatable narratives have been featured in a variety of publications, cultivating a loyal readership that values her authentic voice and practical advice.


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Patient Accommodations Within Therapy Practices

Building a successful therapy practice is easier when you put your patients first. Quality customer service, treatment, and resources are the key to attracting new patients and keeping them long-term.

More importantly, satisfying as many of your patients’ needs as possible is critical for a flourishing practice. Make these six accommodations for your patients, and you’ll likely see a rise in retention and satisfaction.

Accept Various Forms of Payment

One of the most significant challenges for patients pursuing therapy is paying for it. Many therapists’ rates are high, taking therapy completely off the table for some people. A lot of patients don’t have insurance, either.

To accommodate budgets and those that don’t have insurance, offer a variety of therapy payment methods.

For example, you could set a reasonable rate for your services and offer private pay options like cash, check, credit card, Venmo, or Paypal. You could allow patients to set up payment plans using a sliding fee system or a “pay what you can” method. Promotional discounts for new patients, HealthShare, and membership plans are also good options.

Accommodate patients of all financial backgrounds by accepting various payment forms.

Adhere to Digital Accessibility Standards

Many of your patients will interact with your practice online through your website. You can count on them having varying levels of technological and digital literacy. This makes adhering to digital accessibility standards that much more important.

All types of users must be able to use your website with ease. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 offers the latest standards for web content accessibility. Begin with a refresher on the four principles of accessibility. Then, move on to the guidelines for making your website content more accessible.

Ultimately, your site should be simple to navigate, understand, and use, no matter someone’s ability, background, or experience. Enlist the help of a web developer or accessibility specialist if you need to.

Offer Flexible Scheduling

Unfortunately, not everyone has the option to attend therapy between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many patients work during these hours just as you do. Others work overnight and sleep during the day. Some have family obligations that don’t allow a therapy session in between.

There are a whole lot of reasons people need flexible time slots for their appointments. You don’t have to have therapy sessions at midnight. However, it’s a good idea to be as flexible as you can be with scheduling.

Choose a couple of days during the week when you offer late-night sessions. Do the same for early-morning sessions, or offer different hours of operation each day.

Consider customizing therapy schedules for patients as well. For example, if a patient needs one session a month during their overnight work shift, accommodate this if you’re comfortable with it. Or, if a patient needs to come on a Sunday, open up the office for them.

Flexible scheduling is especially helpful in accommodating more patient needs.

Prioritize Accessibility for Disabled Patients

Accessibility isn’t just for the digital realm. Many of your patients are living with a physical, developmental, behavioral, emotional, or sensory disability. You must ensure your practice and services are accessible to these individuals.

Understanding common disabilities and how to accommodate the needs of people living with them is a great first step. Even better is understanding the specific disabilities your patients are living with and accommodating them.

For example, if one of your patients uses a wheelchair, ensure your practice has a ramp and is wheelchair accessible inside. If a patient is visually impaired, offer braille and large-print materials. If a patient is deaf, have a sign language specialist on call for their appointments.

Learn how to accommodate individuals living with various disabilities so that your practice is accessible to more people.

Enable Telehealth Appointments

Therapy used to be primarily an in-person service. You’d go to a therapist’s office, have your session, and head home. Now, therapists can work with patients regardless of their location thanks to telehealth services.

You can offer telehealth appointments to patients who can’t get to your office because of a mobility issue, mental health challenge, childcare obligation, or another reason.

Use video conferencing software like Zoom to simplify virtual therapy sessions. All you have to do is set up the meeting and send your patient the link. You both use the link to enter the remote session and then you can begin therapy.

Make sure that any information you talk about or send through this virtual therapy session is protected.

Allow Patients To Bring a Support Person

Sometimes, people aren’t comfortable going to therapy by themselves, especially if they’re just starting their journey. Allowing a support person in the room during sessions can accommodate individuals with this concern.

You’ll need to get written consent from the patient that it’s okay for the support person to be there. You’ll also need the support person to sign something stating they won’t share anything from any session with anyone.

Of course, there will be sessions the support person can’t or shouldn’t come to. Just do your best to prepare your patients who use support persons for those sessions ahead of time.

Moving Forward

Accommodating as many of your patients’ needs as you can is one of the best ways to enhance your therapy practice. It’s one of the best ways to elevate the patient experience too. Consider the six accommodations above to attract more patients, satisfy, and keep them.


 Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter. 


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

4 Ways to Enhance Your Therapy Practice

As a therapist, whether you’re new to the profession or have been practicing for years, staying up-to-date with the latest trends and resources in your field can help you make sure your practice is as successful as possible. In this article, also published on healthjobsnationwide.com, are four tips to enhance your therapy practice and ensure it runs smoothly.

Utilize Technology

Technology is becoming increasingly important in therapy practices for communication and record-keeping. Investing in a secure online platform lets you communicate directly with clients without having to worry about security issues while also allowing clients to book appointments online. Additionally, using digital records rather than paper helps you keep track of notes more easily. Plenty of tools allow you to do this, so be sure to look into what works best for you and your practice.

Network with Other Therapists

Networking with other therapists is a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and resources available in the field of therapy. You can join professional groups or organizations that offer opportunities for networking with others who share your interests and goals, as well as attending conferences or workshops where like-minded professionals come together to discuss their work. This will give you a chance to learn about new ideas, techniques, and strategies that could help enhance your practice even further.

Implement New Services

If you’re looking for ways to increase revenue or attract more clients, consider implementing new services into your practice. This could be group sessions or specialized programs tailored toward specific client needs or demographics. For example, having your therapists get EMDR instruction can offer incredibly beneficial services to your clients and help attract new ones. Offering additional services allows you to expand your offerings and incentivizes potential clients to choose your practice over another one when they need counseling services.

Market Your Practice Online

Marketing is essential if you want people to know about your services so they can make informed decisions when choosing a therapist. Building an online presence through platforms such as social media allows potential clients to learn more about what services you offer and why they should choose your practice over another one. Additionally, taking advantage of SEO tactics can help ensure that any potential clients searching online will be able to find information about your practice quickly and easily too.

 

With these four tips in mind, enhancing your therapy practice doesn’t have to be difficult; by utilizing technology effectively, networking with other therapists, implementing new services, and marketing yourself online – all of which are outlined above –you can ensure that yours stands out from the crowd. Doing so will benefit current customers and attract potential ones, allowing your business to reach new heights of success.


Bio: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @RachelleWilber; https://www.facebook.com/people/Rachelle-Wilber/100009221637700/


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

 

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in the Healthcare Industry

There are 20 million people employed in the healthcare industry. It’s one of the most fast-paced, competitive, highly-skilled industries out there. So, good for you if you’re a part of it. Many healthcare employees would agree that getting to where they are wasn’t easy.

This is especially true for those that struggled with imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is when people feel like they aren’t as skilled as other people think, and that’ll soon be exposed.

This is common among healthcare workers because it’s such a tough industry to break into and excel in. But if imposter syndrome wins, it will present challenges for your career. So, here’s how to ensure that it doesn’t.

Develop Strong Relationships With Coworkers and Leadership

The thing about imposter syndrome is it’s all in your head. In other words, imposter syndrome persists because of what you’re telling yourself. If you can surround yourself with supportive coworkers and managers, they can help you fight that negative self-talk and reinforce what’s true about your talent, belonging, and skillset.

You can develop genuine relationships with coworkers and leadership by:

      • Not gossiping
      • Participating in facility events
      • Sitting with different people at lunch
      • Volunteering with your team
      • Showing empathy and gratitude
      • Socializing and making time for your coworkers
      • Taking advantage of one-on-one time with your managers

Work on Your Relationship With Yourself

Working on your relationship with yourself is critical for overcoming imposter syndrome. The more you love, respect, and appreciate yourself, the less likely it is for imposter syndrome to set up a home in your head.

Focus on developing authentic self-esteem rather than false self-esteem. With false self-esteem, the beliefs that support that self-esteem aren’t real. On the other hand, authentic self-esteem is when you genuinely feel good about who you really are and your accomplishments.

You can bolster your authentic self-esteem by:

      • Facing fears
      • Practicing positive self-talk
      • Creating a self-care routine
      • Managing your holistic health
      • Developing healthy relationships
      • Not comparing yourself to others
      • Setting realistic expectations and goals
      • Working on personal and professional development

Dig Into Mental Health Care

It will be difficult to overcome imposter syndrome if your mental health isn’t stable. You cannot fend off intrusive imposter syndrome thoughts and behaviors if your mind isn’t clear and positive.

It’ll also be hard to manage the high-stress healthcare environment. Jobs in healthcare are the second most stressfulafter those in arts, entertainment, and recreation. You can navigate stress and imposter syndrome by prioritizing mental health care.

Do mental health check-ins regularly. Ask yourself how you’re doing emotionally and mentally, and be honest in your analysis. Once you know where you are, you can create a clear direction for moving forward, whether through therapy, counseling, time off, more socialization, or another form of care for your mental health.

Grow Your Skillset

You can quiet your imposter syndrome by growing your skillset. Learning new skills, applying them to your work, and seeing the results can boost your confidence. It’ll also further convince you that your talent is real and your healthcare career isn’t a fluke.

Take advantage of professional development opportunities at your facility. Learn from your coworkers and managers. In addition, consider traditional education to advance your skillset in the medical field.

Do What You Thought You Couldn’t

One of the best ways to prove to yourself that you are who you say you are is to do what you thought you couldn’t. In other words, face some fears and try some new things. There are a lot of opportunities to do this in your healthcare facility.

For example, you could speak up in team meetings. You could give your coworkers or managers a hand with something that isn’t in your usual work duties. Leading a volunteer project is a great idea. Or you could ask your manager for more responsibility to really see what you can do.

Learn the Back Stories of Those You Look Up to

Everyone has someone they admire, whether a celebrity, parent, manager, coworker, friend, or someone else. But, as wonderful as their lives look now and as talented as these people might be, it probably wasn’t smooth sailing getting there.

They, too, had internal struggles like imposter syndrome and external circumstances that made the journey to success difficult. Sound familiar? You may be going through what those you look up to went through.

Understanding the backstories of your mentors and others you look up to may give you some comfort in your fight against imposter syndrome. If they overcame it, then so can you.

Fight Negativity With Everything In You

Imposter syndrome is tough enough to deal with on its own. Don’t crowd yourself with other negative forces and make things even more challenging. Instead, fight negativity with everything in you.

For example, any time a negative thought pattern comes up, counter it with a positive mantra. If a coworker is constantly gossiping and causing drama with others in the workplace, distance yourself from them. When someone tries to project their fears onto you, don’t absorb them.

Surround yourself with positive coworkers, managers, friends, and loved ones. Feed yourself positive talk and experiences. Do everything you can to uplift yourself in every situation.

***

Working in the healthcare industry is no joke. But don’t let the fast pace, competition, and demand scare you into feeling like you don’t belong there. You do. Be sure imposter syndrome doesn’t win with the advice above.


Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.   
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.  

Tools for Healthcare Workers to Manage Physical and Mental Health

By using the right tools, healthcare workers are well-equipped to stay healthy

Today’s healthcare workers face unprecedented physical and mental health challenges. They must account for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and ensure they are administering care per proper health and safety protocols. In addition, many healthcare workers are forced to deal with bed shortages and limited access to critical supplies. At the same time, they are coping with patients who may be politically charged, leading to tense and stressful interactions. Healthcare personnel are also prone to working long hours, which can result in exhaustion and burnout.

Healthcare workers should not expect the aforementioned challenges to disappear on their own. If left unaddressed, these issues can have far-flung effects on these workers’ physical and mental wellbeing. Fortunately, tools are available to help healthcare workers take care of their health. By utilizing these tools, healthcare personnel can establish and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Now, let’s look at three tools that can help healthcare workers manage their physical and mental health.

1. Education

In a recent survey of 1,119 healthcare workers, 93% said they experience stress. Although stress is normal, it can become too much to handle at times. And those who cannot manage their stress levels may experience myriad physical and mental health problems.

 Stress can cause body aches and pains, headaches, high blood pressure, and other physical symptoms. Meanwhile, it can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

 Ultimately, stress management is paramount. Thanks to stress management training, healthcare workers can learn safe and effective ways to manage their stress levels.

 Healthcare workers can access online stress management training tools. Furthermore, they can enroll in web-based stress management training courses. These tutorials can teach healthcare workers how to identify stressors and minimize their impact.

2. Technology

Stress management technology is expanding. Healthcare workers can leverage this technology to reduce on-the-job stress. Plus, the technology can help healthcare personnel become more productive and efficient.

 For instance, many healthcare providers are implementing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Healthcare workers can use these technologies to eliminate repetitive tasks and the stress associated with them.

 Expect stress management technology to continue to evolve. The technology will keep getting better, and healthcare providers may become increasingly inclined to implement it. As a result, healthcare workers can leverage state-of-the-art stress management technologies to assist in the long game of physical and mental health.

 Let’s not forget about the use of fitness trackers in healthcare, either. Healthcare personnel can wear a fitness tracker to monitor their pulse and other health metrics. They can gain insights into their sleep patterns and other factors that can impact their physical and mental health. Then, healthcare personnel can use these insights to determine the best ways to manage their physical and mental wellbeing.

3. Lifestyle Changes

Healthcare workers can make lifestyle changes to enhance their physical and mental health and increase their energy for their days. For instance, healthcare personnel can choose nutrient-rich foods over fatty ones. By establishing a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods, healthcare workers can guard against obesity and related physical and mental health issues.

 Moreover, healthcare workers can incorporate exercise into their daily routine. They can go for walks, practice yoga, or perform other activities to stay active. These activities can help healthcare workers remain physically and mentally fit.

 Healthcare providers can help their workers establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle, too. For instance, they can offer free gym memberships and other incentives to encourage healthcare workers to take care of their health. Healthcare providers can also provide their workers with sufficient time off, so these employees have plenty of time to break away from the hustle and bustle of their jobs.

 Lastly, healthcare providers must do everything in their power to support their personnel. They should encourage healthcare workers to come forward to discuss any physical or mental health issues. In doing so, healthcare providers can ensure their workers get the support they need at all times. They can even partner with other healthcare providersto verify all healthcare personnel can get the help they need to optimize their physical and mental health.

Healthcare Workers Must Prioritize Their Physical and Mental Health

The aforementioned tools can help healthcare workers manage their physical and mental health. However, it is important to note that they do not offer a one-size-fits-all solution for all physical and mental health problems.

 Physical and mental health problems can affect any healthcare worker, at any time. Many healthcare workers try to “tough it out” in the hopes that their physical and mental health issues will eventually subside. But the longer these problems linger, the worse they can become. The issues can reach a point where they impact a healthcare worker both on the job and outside of it.

 Healthcare workers should not let physical and mental health issues develop and persist. At the first sign of physical or mental health problems, healthcare workers should consult with a doctor. From here, they can identify the root cause of any health issues and take appropriate steps to manage them.

      Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter. 


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

5 Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health

Healthcare is rife with people who care for others, but often neglect themselves. Try these five ways to better prioritize your mental health.

Oftentimes, those who work in healthcare, spending their days caring for others, do not extend the same level of care to themselves. Maybe it’s because you’re too tired to do so at the end of the day, or perhaps, you just plain don’t know how to practice good self care. Whatever the reason, you really should take better care of yourself—particularly, your mental health.

In an industry rife with a burnout problem, on the heels of the most devastating health crisis in modern history, during Mental Health Awareness Month, if you have not been making your mental health a priority, now is certainly a good time to start.

Try these five ways to better prioritize your mental health starting now.

Start Saying No

Many who go into healthcare do so because they are drawn to serving others, they want to help. Boundaries, however, are important to set for the sake of your mental health. The word “no” (and learning to use it) has power, and it can positively impact your mental health to say no to things you do not want to or cannot do, be it because they would overwhelm you, disinterest you, or for any other reason. Saying no is not selfish, does not need to be justified, and it is something you should do regularly as part of having healthy boundaries.

Take Breaks

In the same vein as saying no, you should take time for yourself more often. Just because you can do something, or have the time in your schedule, that does not mean you need to. Slow down, rest, relax, and recharge—whatever that looks like for you, be it actually taking a lunch break or taking an entire vacation. Listen to your body and mind and give it what it needs. Everything else can wait.

Stay Active

Studies show that regular exercise can have a positive impact on depression and anxiety, and can also relieve stress, improve memory, help you sleep better, and boost your overall mood. Though you may not have time for a trip to the gym seven days a week, make time to move for at least ten to fifteen minutes every day. Take a short walk, jog with your dog, go for a swim, practice some yoga—anything that gets your heart rate up and causes you to breathe a little heavier than normal counts.

Get Some Sleep

Without good sleep, our mental health can suffer. However, mental health disorders may make it harder to sleep, causing even greater problems. Some helpful ways to get meaningful rest might include hanging blackout curtains, wearing an eye mask, taking melatonin before bed, or setting your thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit for the most comfortable sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation.

Talk to Someone

Sometimes, the best way to care for yourself is to ask others for help. If you are struggling, please know you are not alone. You are just a call or text away from reaching professionals who can help you to process what you are experiencing. If you need support, reach out to them at:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline: Call 1-800-662-HELP
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-TALK
  • The Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741741

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Our Nation’s Healthcare Workers Are Not Okay

According to the results of our recent survey on mental health, simply put, our nation’s healthcare workers are not okay. See the responses here.

Ten months ago, as COVID-19 raged through our nation, we surveyed healthcare professionals on the state of their mental health, and the responses we received painted a stark picture of what they were being asked to endure as “healthcare’s heroes”.

Now, more than a year after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March of 2020, we’ve again asked healthcare professionals about their mental state, and the results are grim, to say the least.

Despite COVID-19 vaccinations ramping up across the country, and cases of the virus continuing to trend downward, according to the responses shared with us, our nation’s healthcare workers are, simply put, not okay.

The survey, which saw responses from registered nurses, advanced practitioners, respiratory therapists, and more, asked healthcare professionals to rate their current mental health, as well as their mental health prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. On average, prior to the pandemic, respondents ranked their mental health as an 8.23 out of 10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent. 4.06 out of 10 is how the same respondents ranked their current mental health a year into the pandemic, down from an average of 5.44 out of 10 when we posed the same question in May of 2020.

Respondents also clearly expressed just how much they feel the pandemic has worsened their mental health (9/10) and, though vaccinations provide a promising outlook for a return to some semblance of normalcy, when asked how much they feel the approval and administration of COVID-19 vaccines has improved their mental health, the average response was a dismal 5.69 out of 10.

The average results were as follows, including selected quotes from respondents.

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent, how would you rate your mental health prior to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Average Answer: 8.21/10

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent, how would you rate your current mental health?
Average Answer: 4.06/10

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very low and 10 being very high, how would you rate your level of work-related stress prior to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Average Answer: 6.03/10

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very low and 10 being very high, how would you rate your current level of work-related stress?
Average Answer: 8.09/10

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent, how well do you believe you are coping with your work-related stress?
Average Answer: 4.81/10

Most Commonly Used Coping Mechanisms:
1. Talking to Family/Friends
2. Humor
3. Physical Activity
4. Tie: Prescription Medication & Other
5. Avoidance
6. Yoga/Meditation
7. Alcohol
8. Therapy
9. Recreational Drugs

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very little and 10 being very much, how much do you feel your job negatively impacts your mental health?
Average Answer: 7.59/10

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very little and 10 being very much, how much do you feel the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened your mental health?
Average Answer: 9.00/10

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very little and 10 being very much, how important do you feel your mental health is to your employer?
Average Answer: 4.81/10

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being not very often and 10 being very often, how often have you considered quitting your job in the past year?
Average Answer: 7.06/10

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very little and 10 being very much, how much do you feel the approval and administration of COVID-19 vaccines has improved your mental health?
Average Answer: 5.69/10

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

“I’m really sick of all this. Management has the expectation that we keep giving and giving with no end in sight.”

“Nurses and other healthcare workers should be acknowledged with better pay and benefits (especially mental health). It will be interesting to see how many workers are diagnosed with PTSD in the coming months and years.”

“I actually did step out of the nursing field for now due to the impact on my mental health and am seeking professional help/intervention.”

“I think overall the entire pandemic situation has been terribly managed on both a federal and corporate levels. I would go in to more detail but I can already feel my blood pressure going up! But thanks for asking!”

“The lack of support from management, working short staffed every day, wearing PPE that is not for medical use, the lack of transparency, the overall mental health of patients, increase in meth, alcohol, and heroin use, the constant mental abuse from patients has made me consider selling my house, changing my lifestyle, and getting rid of my car so I can leave my career behind before it takes every last bit of my sanity and potentially my life.”

“Half of our staff has left to do travel nursing for 3X what they were making. These are seasoned nurses with years of experience. These nurses are not being replaced, we have 3 travelers to replace the 22 that have left since December. We are working extremely, dangerously short staffed with nurses who have NO ICU experience & management does not offer a plan. I know more will be leaving.”

“Each time I hear the government tell people not to wear masks I get stressed worrying about more deaths from COVID. The public trying to promote COVID as a government conspiracy. Most of the people who are recovering from COVID do not return to the normal life they had before COVID. ”

“I DID quit. I retired a year earlier than I had planned just to get away from the stress. I have been doing temporary gig work and LOVE it. Get to do the job and go home.”

“I feel management and the organization is doing very little to help the bedside nurse feel better during this pandemic. They are almost trying to make things worse.”

“If I were home all the time and not working with the kids and other staff, I would be much worse.”

Prior to the pandemic, multiple occupations within the field were already considered high stress and the suicide risk was identified as being higher among nurses than any other profession, making the findings especially alarming. With experts predicting an escalating mental health crisis for Americans as a whole, it is especially important for healthcare professionals to be aware of their mental health, and to seek help as needed.

If you are struggling with your mental health, we urge you to ask for help. You are just a call or text away from reaching professionals who can assist you in processing what you are experiencing. Reach out to them, if you need support at:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Hotline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • The Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741741.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-TALK.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.