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Happy Nurses & Mental Health Months!

Happy Nurses & Mental Health Months!

Happy National Nurses Day! You can’t see it, but I’m throwing confetti right now and celebrating all of you! May marks Nurses and Mental Health Awareness Months, so I’m doubly honoring our psychiatric-mental health nursing community and hoping you feel a swell of support and gratitude around you. You can’t see me here at my desk, but in my mind’s eye I can see you.

I see you making a personal connection with a patient – building a level of trust for the road to recovery ahead. I see you giving hope and a safe space to an adolescent who is feeling lost and alone. I see you reassuring an overwhelmed student nurse. And I see you sitting with family members, offering comfort and counsel on how to respond when their loved one is experiencing a psychotic episode or can no longer recall their names.

The work you do each day can start to seem ordinary to a seasoned nurse – but to those you are serving it is anything but. In recent APNA Member News we learned about Jeremy Baker, MSN, RN, who was honored with a Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses. The words of his patient-nominator encapsulate our role: “Over weeks, Jeremy was by my side, listening to me, validating me, reminding me of all I had and all I could be. He helped explain the ward and listened to my fears. Jeremy was consummately professional and compassionate. As my trust in him grew, so did my trust in the system of care—which is what he set out to do. Because of him, I faced my bipolar illness, learned about it and how to manage it.”

Through your skill, knowledge, and experience, you offer light and guidance through some very dark days. And for that I thank you. Thank you for choosing this career every day.

With national challenges like the effects of COVID-19, suicide, and substance use, my hope is that Mental Health Awareness Month and Nurses Month not only give you a boost, but also the public a reminder. PMH nurses are shouldering much of this load – and making great strides: by providing screening and prevention, person-centered care, and advocating for those who can’t speak for themselves. For that extraordinary effort, and for you my colleagues, I am so grateful.

Stay tuned for more celebratory perks throughout the month, or go to!

Leslie G. Oleck
American Psychiatric Nurses Association