Psychiatric Liaison Nurses Support Patient and Staff Mental Health Through a Challenging Year

Author: Norah Vo, BSN, RN, PMH-BC

As the world continues to work through the challenges of the ongoing global pandemic, the health care community braces for its impact on mental health. According to the World Health Organization, during just the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of anxiety and depression increased globally by 25%. Rush continues to work to meet this growing demand as we see an increase in mental health needs within our own community.

One way Rush has addressed the mental health needs of a complex medical population is through the role of psychiatric liaison nurses. These are specialist psychiatric advanced practices nurses who consult and support the nursing staff with patients, focusing on patient education, resources and treatment plans. They provide direct support to patients, visitors and frontline staff in situations that touch on mental health, regardless of whether or not the patient or family member who needs additional support has a formal psychiatric diagnosis. Their expertise is invaluable to nurses at the bedside who may have less experience with the nuances and challenges of mental health issues or supporting those whose ability to cope may not meet the stressful demands of the hospital environment.

Throughout the pandemic, psychiatric liaison nurses have also worked to support staff wellness. In conjunction with the Rush Center for Clinical Wellness, they rounded on units to support frontline caregivers through the uncertainty, fear, frustration and helplessness that came and changed with the different phases and surges of the crisis.

As our city and surrounding communities continue to work toward stabilization and recovery, Rush is proud to have these experts on our team to provide their insight, support and knowledge as we work toward continued excellence in addressing the physical and mental health needs of our community and staff.