Program to support nurses experiencing mental health and/or substance use disorders launches today
January 29, 2019
Ontario's 175, 000 nurses have a new voluntary program that focuses on early identification and referral for treatment for mental health and/or substance use disorders.
The Nurses' Health Program (NHP) embraces the philosophy that nurses experiencing these disorders should have an opportunity for education, treatment, and recovery. It also recognizes their unique needs as health care professionals and the importance of protecting the public.
NHP offers a proven approach to the assessment and treatment of mental health and/or substance use disorders. It recognizes these disorders as illnesses and takes a non-punitive approach that reduces stigma and focuses on recovery. NHP is modelled on similar programs used by regulated health professions.
The new bilingual program offers nurses access to resources, a dedicated case manager, comprehensive assessment, an individualized support and treatment plan, and monitoring.
NHP was developed by the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), and Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO). It is an incorporated not-for-profit organization overseen by a board of directors with equal representation from the four nursing organizations and administered by Lifemark Health Group.
- "There is significant research showing that voluntary and confidential professional health programs are highly effective both in supporting recovery and protecting the public.—Anne Coghlan, RNExecutive Director & Chief Executive Officer, College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO)
- "ONA is proud to be a partner in the Nurses' Health Program. As health-care professionals, we're familiar with helping patients who suffer from mental health disorders and struggle with substance abuse. Nurses are just as vulnerable to these illnesses as everyone else. As nurses, we must treat each other with the same professionalism and compassion that we show to our patients. This program is a huge step forward. It will help nurses to get the specialized treatment and support they need, so they can work towards healthy recovery to be able to continue in their dedication to high-quality patient care. That's why ONA has been so committed to ensuring that this program comes to fruition."—Vicki McKenna, RN, President, Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA)
- "RNAO is delighted to partner with CNO, ONA and RPNAO in developing this program. Nurses who are dealing with issues of mental health and addiction need support to overcome their challenges. NHP offers them a new avenue. We take great pride in being able to offer a program of this type for nurses." —Doris Grinspun, RN, MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), FAAN, O.ONT.Chief Executive Officer, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)
- "Every day, in all practice settings, nurses across Ontario provide excellent care for patients and families experiencing mental illness and addictions. With increasing stressors in the work environment and in their daily lives, it's essential that nurses also have access to support and treatment. As caring professionals, nurses prioritize caring for others and run the risk of not taking care of ourselves. I'm proud that this evidence-based program will help tackle the stigma and support nurses to come forward and get the help they need."– Dianne Martin, RPNChief Executive Officer, Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO)
- Ontario's 175, 000 nurses have a new voluntary bilingual program available to them for the treatment of mental health and/or substance use disorders.
- Like the general public, nurses are not immune to substance use and/or mental health disorders.
- In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness or addiction problem.*
- People with substance use disorders are up to 3 times more likely to have a mental illness.*
*Mental illness and addictions: Facts and Statistics, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Background information - Nurses' Health Program (NHP)
What is the Nurses' Health Program?
- The Nurses' Health Program (NHP) is a voluntary bilingual program for Ontario nurses. It is designed to encourage nurses to seek treatment for mental health and/or substance use disorders that may affect their ability to practice nursing safely.
- It is an evidence-based approach that focuses on early identification and referral for treatment.
- The program is modelled on similar ones used by other regulated health professions across the province.
- The program monitors the nurses' recovery so that they may be supported to practice safely or return to practice, which promotes professional accountability and protects the public.
- The new program does not replace the College of Nurses of Ontario's (CNO) regulatory process but provides an opportunity for nurses to self-refer and get the support and monitoring they need.
Who is NHP for?
- NHP is for Ontario nurses (RN, RPN and NP) with mental health and/or substance use disorders. It provides an opportunity for them to receive treatment and support to recover and practice safely.
Why have a Nurses' Health Program?
- No one is immune from mental health and/or substance use disorders. They can affect anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, gender or occupation – including nurses.
- Without appropriate treatment and monitoring, these disorders can impact a nurse's ability to practice safe nursing.
- Nurses benefit from specialized treatments that recognize their unique needs as health care professionals.
- There is significant research indicating that voluntary and confidential professional health programs are highly effective in supporting recovery while protecting the public.
How does it work?
- Nurses can enter the program voluntarily through self-referral or as an alternative to the current regulatory process of CNO.
- The program includes a dedicated case manager, a comprehensive assessment and an individualized treatment plan.
- NHP monitors the nurses' recovery, so that they may be supported to practice safely or return to practice.
- The program's focus reflects the balance between supporting nurses in recovery and protecting the public. With the right support nurses can continue or return to safe nursing practice benefiting both the nurse and the public.
Who runs the program?
- The Nurses' Health Program was developed by the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) and the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO).
- NHP is an incorporated not-for-profit organization overseen by a Board of Directors with equal representation from each of the four nursing organizations. This governance model demonstrates a shared commitment to the goals of the program.
- The program operations are administered by Lifemark Health Group.
For more information:
Sheree Bond, firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-964-1979 ext.2430, 416-986-8240 (cell)