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Mental health and moral injury among nurses: practical self-compassionate care to alleviate the psychological impact of COVID-19

By Kimberley Cairns - Author First published: Last updated:

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses were typically regarded as being at high risk of experiencing exhaustion, autoimmune disease and even suicidal ideation (Lamb et al, 2020). With many experiencing a significant change in work patterns and roles, increased exposure to infection and isolation from family and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic, this has posed a significant threat that magnifies potential mental health concerns in nurses. 

The psychological battle is as crucial as the physical fight, and it has recently been acknowledged that nurses have developed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder in relation to the first wave of the pandemic (Dean, 2020). Approximately nine out of 10 nurses are reporting feeling overwhelmed and distressed, with one-third referring to their mental health as ‘bad or ‘very bad’ (Lamb et al, 2020).

Sustaining moral injury 

A moral injury is a form of psychological distress resulting from actions or, equivalently, the lack of

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Kimberley Cairns

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