Lookout for Burnout, Depression, and Suicide Risk

As nurses, you work long hours whether on your feet doing direct care, writing budgets, dealing with staffing, traveling to see patients at home, or teaching the next generation of nurses. We know how varied your roles can be! Whether it’s spending hours on your computer, conference calls, and traveling away from home and family to conferences, or juggling household responsibilities, the family calendar, or maybe a 2nd job or school. When do you exercise? When do you rest? How do you fit in time to prepare and eat healthy food?


Did you know that nurses are more likely to be overweight, have higher levels of stress, and get less sleep than the general population. Nurses are the largest and most trusted health care profession and are critical to the health of the nation, yet when it comes to taking care of yourselves, you are often last on your own to-do list.


It’s important you pay attention to the mental health risks in yourselves and your nursing colleagues. First, let’s clarify terminology:

  • Burnout is “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” (WHO, 2019), while depression is something that you will feel in all areas of your life.
  • Compassion fatigue is a type of burnout that impacts the emotional connection nurses have with their patients and causes them to disengage.
  • Secondary traumatic stress occurs when nurses become traumatized by unanticipated events such as a patient’s death or a medical error. Secondary traumatic stress can lead to depression.

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