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More nurses seeking help over suicidal thoughts – new research

05 Jun 2024 3 minute read
NHS nurses. Picture by Jane Barlow / PA

Nurses are seeking help every day over suicidal thoughts driven by pressures at work, according to new research.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said there has been a 54% increase since November in nursing staff contacting its advice line saying they are struggling with suicidal feelings.

The RCN said the number of times it was being contacted over the issue has gone from seven a month in April 2022 to every single day in the same month this year.

An analysis of data from the RCN’s counselling service was said to show a direct link between suicidal thoughts and workplace pressures.

More than two-thirds of nursing staff contacting the RCN said workplace pressure was a key factor behind why they were seeking help, as well as working relationships, bullying and harassment, and work-life balance.

Overwhelming emotional stress

Many members of the nursing workforce have faced overwhelming emotional stress during the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic exacerbated the issue, with female nurses having double the suicide risk of women in the general population.

The RCN is urging governments and political parties to commit to funding mental health support for all nursing staff, and called for an end to the culture of mental health stigma that prevents people from seeking help.

RCN Wales is calling for the creation of compassionate workplaces, taking a preventative approach that encourages people to seek help when they need it most.

Helen Whyley, RCN Wales Executive Director, said: “Nursing staff are experiencing alarming rates of suicidal ideation, with female nurses having a higher rate of suicide than other women.

“The complexities of suicide, influenced by workplace, financial, and personal problems, demand a comprehensive, needs-based clinical approach. Nurses, who tirelessly care for others, often face overwhelming stress and emotional fatigue.

“When thoughts of suicide arise, it’s crucial to remember that they, too, deserve support and compassion.”


The acting general secretary of the union, Professor Nicola Ranger said: “It should be a moment of great shame that nursing staff are being pushed so hard at work that they feel suicidal.

“Ministers and health leaders have allowed this mental health crisis to grow.

“Widespread workforce shortages and high demand for services have left nursing staff sacrificing their own welfare to care for patients. Intolerable levels of stress have become the norm rather than the exception. It is unacceptable.

“In every setting, nursing staff are suffering but governments and health leaders aren’t paying attention. NHS staff desperately need properly funded mental health support and for the underlying drivers of poor mental health, such as workforce pressures, to be tackled. The time to act is now.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 days ago

The Baroness shows no signs of stress…

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
11 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

There isn’t really much she can do when westminster hold the purse strings

It would be different if we were an independent country and the sooner the better!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 days ago

Call Medecins Sans Frontieres and ask them to rate YG and its budget…

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