RICHMOND, Va. -- With a job that can be quite taxing on both the mind and body, Registered Nurse Bailey Glidewell expressed the importance of taking care of yourself when feeling overwhelmed at work.
Finishing up her first year as a nurse at the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU, Glidewell said she always knew she wanted to work with kids.
“When they first come in, you know, they're barely moving but by the end, they're running and jumping around the halls, playing in the playroom, and going down the slide," Glidewell said.
She said despite loving the work she does and the patients she serves, the long hours and emotional waves of the job can take a toll on her mental health.
"You deal with a lot and you deal with a lot of emotions of other people. And so I think having a space where you can safely process that is incredibly important," Glidewell explained.
Melina Davis, who serves as the C.E.O and E.V.P for the Medical Society of Virginia, said that when healthcare workers are having mental health issues, many times they do not feel comfortable coming forward for fear of repercussions.
"If you can't talk to somebody, not only are you isolated, but there's a building level of frustration and loss of hope," she said. "Could mean that your license would be affected, your referral network could be affected even your employment, so they had a tendency to then just hold it all in and keep it to themselves, because they couldn't turn to anybody safely.”
Davis said this was because of this the Safe Haven bill was introduced and then unanimously passed by the Virginia Genral Assembly in 2020. The legislation protects healthcare workers looking to address any career fatigue or mental health issues. The law was amended in 2021 to include nurses and other healthcare positions.
Various resources are available though safe haven including peer coaching and counseling services.
“We are offer 24 hour on the phone support, so and that's unlimited. So anybody can just call if you're going home from a shift at 2 a.m., you can get help” she said.
Davis said prior to Safe Haven being passed, many of the doctors she talked to did not feel comfortable expressing to their mental health issues to others.
In fact, she said only 1% of physicians and only about 3 or 4% of nurses were asking for help.
"With Safe Haven, those numbers are up over 47%," explained Davis.
Both Davis and Glidewell stressed the importance of taking care of yourself and not being afraid to ask for help.
“It is a hard job...so just lean on your people and keep doing what you do best," said Glidewell.
Click here for more information on Safe Haven and available resources.