What factors protect against depression?
The good news is that current research has identified several factors which seem to be protective against depression. That is, if these are present, nurses are less likely to become depressed, and experience positive wellbeing:
Demographic/social protective factors
- Older age
- High level of perceived social support outside work.
Occupational protective factors
- Higher job satisfaction
- More years of experience
Psychological/lifetsyle related protective factors
- Positive evaluations and expectations toward self and others
- Self-efficacy (the belief that you are in control of your life and confidence in skills and abilities)
- High degree of optimism
- Engagement in regular exercise.
To read further about these, check out papers by Luo et al (2021) and Schug et al (2021).
This list is encouraging as it points towards potential targets for intervention at the individual and organisational level. Naturally, some of these are easier to increase or promote, than others.
For example, social support can be encouraged through workplace initiatives, positive psychological coping can be trained, and interventions can promote lifestyle changes such as increased exercise.
It might be unethical for organisations to encourage marriage, though….
Given the huge role that organisations have in shaping some of these risk/protective factors, there is a responsibility here to make changes and implement programs and training to benefit the mental health of nursing staff.
Nurses, like the world at large, have suffered psychologically throughout the pandemic. If you are a nurse who worked in a frontline role or had any exposure to COVID, there is an alarmingly high chance you may have developed depression in the past couple of years.
Pandemic aside, several nursing working environments make it more likely you are going to develop depression than someone else who is not a nurse. This route is far from set in stone, however, as there are many nurses who stay well and are not depressed.
Nurse Wellbeing Mission are committed to supporting nurses’ mental health and helping provide tools to prevent and manage common mental health problems.