Prioritizing Mental Health for Travel Nurses

a tablet with the words mental health matters on it

In the fast-paced world of healthcare, where the demands are high and the stakes are even higher, it is crucial for healthcare professionals to recognize the significance of mental health — both for their patients and themselves. As Mental Health Awareness Month takes center stage this May, it serves as a timely reminder for travel nurses to prioritize their well-being.

The demands of the healthcare profession can often lead to chronic stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue. The pressures of long working hours, emotionally challenging situations, and the weight of responsibility can affect mental well-being. When you add being away from your support system to that, you can see how dire it is for travel nurses to acknowledge their mental health needs and engage in self-care practices, including using any of their agency’s mental wellness resources.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m highlighting one of my favorite travel nurse companies’ mental health resources. TNAA’s mental wellness resources include its expanding Health & Wellness committee, now open to travelers.

HR manager Kristen Henderson leads TNAA’s Health & Wellness committee. Kristen eats, sleeps, and breathes health and wellness, but it all took on a new meaning when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She refused chemotherapy and found a holistic doctor to help her through her surgeries, bilateral mastectomy, and reconstructions. Finally, after four years of surgeries and treatments, she was cancer free. This is her story of why she chose to lead TNAA’s Health & Wellness committee and how it’s helping healthcare travelers to prioritize their mental well-being.

Health & Wellness for Travelers

Note: Guest contributor Kristen Henderson wrote the below portion of this post. Learn more about Kristen at the bottom of this article.

When I came to TNAA and was given the opportunity to start a wellness program, I immediately knew what I wanted – a holistic program that prioritizes mental health and other wellness aspects come afterward. Yes, we need to learn about food and exercise, but mental health comes first. 

I met Dr. Suzannah Bozzone, a board-certified MD and lifestyle medicine doctor, and she is my partner in our program. I wanted every bit of content in the TNAA Health & Wellness program to be science-based and MD-backed. And it is! I have built a program that gives people natural and medical ways to improve their minds, body, and spirits through three pillars of wellness, focusing on mental health, nutrition, and movement. After just nine months post-launch, Cigna Healthcare nominated the program for a national designation for being a self-standing program. I went through an assessment with a Cigna rep to answer all the categories the wellness program had to speak to, and we made it to the top five out of over 170 in our region! I am honored and so proud.

This year, we are spreading our reach to TNAA’s healthcare travelers. We have incorporated sections in TNAA’s weekly newsletter and plan to have more of a social media presence focused on our wellness material. We also have a huge wellness incentive program. Through this, we have sent over 300 travelers beautiful gifts that range from spa sets of creams, lotions, and candles to WellBox care packages to Gardenuity plants that benefit the traveler and provide a monetary donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a breast cancer organization. 

I aim to continue spreading wellness as far as my reach allows with this program. With so much constantly happening in our lives, we need to be “well.” The trials that life has sent my way have given me experience in being well and coming back from hard times when I wasn’t well. That, combined with a huge heart and an urge to smile at each day no matter what it looks like, gives me the desire every day to make things better for people however I can.

About Kristen

headshot for Kristen Henderson

I grew up in the military community of Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio, and was the youngest of four children. My mother was a nurse and still keeps her license active even at age 86! I have a bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts Dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration Management from Devry University, and a master’s degree in Human Resources/Healthcare Management from Keller Graduate School of Management. I lived most of my life in Ohio until I went to NYC for 5 years – then back to teach at Colonel White High School of the Arts for 16 years.

I have been in Florida for 17 years with my three children and three grandchildren (and I’m expecting a fourth coming in September). I love the water, sunrises and sunsets, dark chocolate, and Caribbean islands (including the food, people, music, and of course the beauty of the islands). I love to read, take long walks, swim, do yoga, do pilates, and relax by the water.

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