School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: A Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being from the U.S. Surgeon General

On the heels of the recent release of NASN’s survey about the mental health of school nurses during COVID, comes an important publication from the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, The Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being.

You can listen to Dr. Murthy introduce this important framework in the video below:

I plan on sharing this important publication with my school district and I hope you do as well.  The Framework provides a guide to “5 essentials for workplace well-being centered on worker voice and equity.” This is an “if only” moment, if only our schools would embrace these 5 essentials, imagine the impact on student and staff well-being. I have a sense of hopefulness after taking a deep look at Dr. Murthy’s Framework, it just makes sense! My mind goes straight to school nurses and how we would thrive “if only” we worked in systems that embraced this plan. 

As a reminder, here are the results from NASN’s survey:

Improving school nurse mental health is essential to creating safe environments for young people in our nation’s schools.

These survey findings highlight opportunities to improve supportive policies and practices to reduce workplace stressors and increase workplace supports for school nurses.

Supportive policies and practices could include providing adequate staffing, training, and support, particularly as they relate to COVID-19 or future public health emergencies. – retrieved from Mental Health of School Nurses in the United States during the COVID-19 Pandemic Highlights from a national survey | March 7-30, 2022

Let’s keep the conversation moving forward. Collectively, we can make an impact on our own and our student’s well-being by introducing the US Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being to our schools. We can begin to address the opportunities recommended in the NASN survey and weave them into the 5 essentials of the Surgeon General’s Framework.

These are the brave conversations we need to have both privately and publicly. We can say what we need out loud, which means speaking to our school boards, our state legislators, and our national organizations. But first, we need clarity on what we need. Let’s spend some time and discussion considering the suggestions that came out of the NASN survey and define the following:

  1. What supportive policies and practices do we need?
  2. What is adequate staffing in the school health office?
  3. What training and support do we need to be prepared for the next national emergency?
  4. What workplace supports will decrease workplace stressors?
  5. What do school nurses need to safely care for students and staff?
  6. How can financing the needs of highly effective school health services become sustainable and not a brief reprieve because of the pandemic?


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