According to the report, the biggest culprits of the mental health crisis are burnout and harassment on the job.

ATLANTA — A new report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paints a dire picture for healthcare workers continuing to face a mental health crisis.

According to the report, the biggest culprits of the mental health crisis are burnout and harassment on the job.

Ashley Blackmon, a nurse practitioner and the president of United Advanced Practice Registered Nurses of Georgia, said she was “not surprised.”

“I think my biggest surprise is probably that we’re still talking about it,” she said. “And not doing as much as I’d like to see done.”

Blackmon works at Piedmont Eastside. Between that and her role at UAPRN, she says she sees healthcare workers across the state facing the unimaginable every day. 

“I was talking to someone the other day about the rise in aggression against healthcare workers. It’s like the Me Too movement and that people are surprised when they hear that every man or woman has a story of sexual harassment, and every worker has a story of violence,” Blackmon said. “Every single one of us has multiple stories.”

She believes outside factors, like inflation and the economy, have only made conditions worse.

“The economy has impacted people’s outlook and personality, and they are sick because they can’t afford their medication and then they come to the hospital and take it out on us which is even more challenging,” she said.

According to the CDC’s Vital Signs report, the number of health workers reporting harassment at work more than doubled in 2022 compared to 2018That has contributed to a decrease in reported happiness and an increase in a laundry list of issues – sleep problems, depression, feelings of burnout and anxiety.

In light of the report’s revelations, the CDC is calling on workplaces to do better. They want employers to promote worker well-being by giving workers a say in changes needed in the workplace.

But workers like Blackmon say there’s only so much employers can do, and she’s begging lawmakers to get rid of laws she believes limit medical workers’ ability to care for Georgia residents.

“We need our legislators to step up and get rid of antiquated laws and create other laws that provide safe staffing environments so that employers can do what they need to do to utilize all of their staff to the best of their ability,” she said. 

Blackmon argues there are several such “antiquated” laws impacting nurse practitioners, techs and others in the field that are no longer needed and have to do with being able to practice to the full extent of a license. She said in Florida, she had access to more medical responsibilities under her licensing than in Georgia.

The CDC’s report also calls on the general public to support healthcare workers by treating them with understanding and respect.

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