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New program supports Ontario nurses with mental health disorders

Participants provided with individualized treatment plan
nurse looking down
The Nurses' Health Program takes a non-punitive approach and aims to reduce stigma. Shutterstock

Various nurses’ groups across Ontario have launched a new program that provides early identification and referral for treatment for nurses with mental health or substance use disorders.

“With increasing stressors in the work environment and in their daily lives, it's essential that nurses also have access to support and treatment,” said Dianne Martin, CEO of the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO). “As caring professionals, nurses prioritize caring for others and run the risk of not taking care of ourselves. I'm proud that this evidence-based program will help tackle the stigma and support nurses to come forward and get the help they need."

The Nurses' Health Program recognizes nurses’ unique needs and is modelled on similar programs used by regulated health professions. It takes a non-punitive approach and aims to reduce stigma, focusing on recovery.

The bilingual program offers nurses access to resources, a dedicated case manager, comprehensive assessment, an individualized support and treatment plan and monitoring. Nurses can enter the program voluntarily through self-referral or as an alternative to the current regulatory process of the College of Nurses of Ontario.

“This program is a huge step forward. It will help nurses to get the specialized treatment and support they need, so they can work towards healthy recovery to be able to continue in their dedication to high-quality patient care,” said Vicki McKenna, president of the Ontario Nurses' Association.

The Nurses' Health Program was developed by the College of Nurses of Ontario, Ontario Nurses' Association, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario and the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario.

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