Nursing Mental Health: Care for Those Who Care

Team

Alex Fu: Prototyping, Digital Mockup Creation, Usability Test Notetaker

Problem

As COVID-19 case numbers continue to persist or rise in various areas of the United States, nurses working on the frontline are at high risk of experiencing struggles with mental health. As workers who directly interact with patients, nurses face specific challenges in their job that prevent them from feeling mentally well enough to care for patients to the best of their ability. Despite the large amount of responsibilities they carry at work, nurses themselves feel like they do not have adequate emotional support. From our research, we have found that nurses tend to rely on close friends and family as their primary pillars of emotional support, but face barriers when their loved ones are unable to fully relate to their struggles in health care. However, many nurses also struggle to rely on their coworkers, those who can most relate to their struggles, for support. We have also found that many hospitals do not provide adequate support and resources that are considerate to their nurses, making it hard for nurses to find and schedule with therapists even when they may need it.

Solution

There is a need for a strong support system for nurses as they face the uncertainty of the pandemic, on top of the stressors that are already associated with their duties. Our proposed solution is a chat based mobile app, CareTalk, designed to help nurses navigate the stressors and obstacles of working during COVID-19. Similar to a “chat roulette”, users will be anonymously matched with other nurses based on state location where they can share worries or simply check in with each other, with an option to save a contact to keep talking with a matched nurse in the long term. In addition, nurses will be able to schedule an appointment with mental health professionals at any time. We hope that our app can help strengthen the support systems for nurses by providing them with a supportive community of other nurses, while also providing an easy, painless way to get access to therapists.

Paper Prototype, Testing & Results

Digital Mockup

Conclusion

Our focus is to provide as much support for nurses as we can to lessen their hefty burdens. We recognize that the amount of hard work that goes into their jobs has been especially heightened during this global pandemic. The high amounts of stress and burnout inherent to the hospital setting and exponentiated by the pandemic combined with lacking mental health resources and support systems leave nurses needing support within a system that doesn’t always seem to care. We hope for our app design to help lessen the burden by providing additional avenues of support for nurses and making it convenient and easy to talk to a therapist when it is needed. We need our nurses to be supported and happy so that they can continue doing great things for the world.

University of Washington Computer Science, Intro to Human Computer Interaction