Behavioral Health Considerations for Nurse Leaders

Nurse administrators work with teams of nurses with varying degrees of experience and from different backgrounds. It is paramount that they observe and consider the mental and behavioral health of the people they work with to maintain smooth and successful operations.

According to Salveo Integrative Health, “behavioral health is a differentiation that encompasses mental health” and specifically “relates to the connection between your behavior and the health of your mind, body, and spirit. It is the way your habits affect your mental and physical health and wellness.”

How Behavioral Health Influences the Healthcare Environment

Behavioral health can influence the healthcare environment in multiple ways. Due to recent surges in mental health issues, many healthcare facilities need to increase their behavioral health capacities. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the widespread need for mental and behavioral programs and how healthcare providers can help individuals access these resources.

Nobl states that “it is important that every facility be able to a) provide safe and efficient mental health care to promote the well-being of each patient, and b) to maximize their capacity to provide care to more individuals.”

The best method for considering behavioral health for all is to study the various types of mental health struggles people in a community go through. This method entails studying the most common key components and variations of mental health. Knowing about these health factors can improve how individuals receive help at the healthcare level.

While the priority is caring for patients suffering from behavioral health issues, the nurses on the care team can also suffer from stress due to the increased workload. A workspace must also focus on the mental health of the employees who work there.

Supporting Coworkers With Behavioral Health

One way to combat stress overload as a nurse leader is to recognize the signs of burnout within one’s nursing staff. Once these signs of burnout are validated, they can implement ways for nurses to take breaks that resonate as “meaningful” to them.

In an article on healthcare burnout and leadership, Reena Joseph Kelly and Larry R. Hearld report that “nearly 50% of behavioral healthcare providers feel overburdened due to the emotionally taxing nature of the job, high stress levels, perceived lack of career advancement opportunities, and low salaries coupled with high caseloads.”

If nurses feel burdened by any of these items, they might begin to feel unmotivated in their career field. At this point, their determination has already slowly started to decline.

Nurse leaders can take control of staff burnout by cultivating a new leadership style that allows nurses to feel valued in the facility. Specific leadership styles have decreased burnout and inspired coworkers to appreciate their career field again.

Kelly and Hearld list leader behaviors that result in lower rates of employee burnout. Such leaders “engage in clear communication and active listening, empathize with employees and coworkers, adopt compassionate and ethical approaches to problem-solving, and exhibit a willingness to accept recommendations.”

Other factors may mitigate employee burnout, but leadership style is a major contributor. Other factors include the personality, behavior or traits of the nurse leader in charge of the facility.

Regardless of burnout, a career in behavioral health is rewarding, as it allows nurses to actively guide patients toward a life not weighed down by mental health challenges.

Prepare to Make a Difference With a Master’s Degree

One way to make a difference in patients’ lives as a nurse is to further your career and earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Graduates of the Registered Nurse (RN) to MSN – Nursing Administration online program at William Paterson University are equipped to be highly effective nurse leaders in a variety of healthcare environments.

Students will develop high-demand organizational leadership skills to advocate for healthcare policies and systems to improve healthcare. The program’s accelerated nature means nurses can accomplish this in as few as 20 months.

This intensive program simultaneously allows all students to make a difference in the health of the nursing population in which they work. For example, The Role of the Advanced Practice Nurse, an elective course, covers the current sociocultural, ethical and legal issues that impact quality care. In the Leadership and Professional Practice course, students will examine various issues affecting healthcare systems from the leadership viewpoint.

Each future nursing administrator will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter influential roles such as chief nursing officer, chief administration officer, nurse manager and charge nurse.

Learn more about William Paterson University’s RN to MSN – Nursing Administration online program.

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