Mental Health Resources for Nurses

Gayle Morris, MSN
Updated March 26, 2024
Reviewed by
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    Nurses must value their mental health to lower their risk of burnout and depression. Check out these programs that are focused on care for nurses and healthcare providers.
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    Although nursing is one of the most rewarding careers, it comes with challenges that increase the risk of burnout and raise turnover rates. The psychological demands of a nursing career can be addressed through mental health services.

    Nurses must value their mental health and have easy access to these services to lower the risk of depression, anxiety, burnout, and suicide. Nurses have access to hotline services for immediate help and in-person or online/virtual support for ongoing assistance.

    Explore different mental health resources for nurses that can help address the profession’s unique needs.

    Mental Health Hotlines for Nurses

    Mental health crisis hotlines offer callers trained, unbiased volunteers and professionals who can help defuse a mental health crisis in a culture that doesn’t encourage expressing your vulnerability. You may not be the person in crisis, so it’s crucial you identify when it’s necessary to call an emergency hotline for help.

    Austin, Texas is one city that has expanded its 911 system to include mental health services. In addition to 911, you may access immediate help using the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is a national network that provides free emotional support for people in crisis.

    988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

    988: The lifeline is available 24/7 and the organization receives ongoing consultation and guidance from national and international experts focused on suicide prevention and crisis response.

    Crisis Text Line

    Text HOME to 741741: Volunteer crisis counselors are available to connect with you via text when you aren’t able or willing to speak with someone directly. The trained counselors help you move away from a hot moment whether you’re dealing with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, self-harm, or suicide.

    For the Frontlines

    Text FRONTLINE to 741741: Free crisis counseling for healthcare professionals to help deal with fear, isolation, anxiety, stress, and other challenging emotions.

    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline

    1-800-985-5990: The SAMHSA national hotline is dedicated to providing support 24/7 to people who have experienced a natural or human disaster and provides referrals to local crisis support centers for follow-up care.

    SAMHSA National Helpline

    1-800-662-HELP (4357): This is a free treatment and information referral service provided in English and Spanish for people facing mental health or substance use challenges. They provide referrals to local treatment centers, support groups, and community-based organizations.

    National Alliance on Mental Illness

    1-800-950-6264: The national organization offers a range of resources for healthcare professionals facing symptoms of trauma or stress. Nurses can access the NAMI Helpline available Mon-Fri 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and a list of confidential support resources. The list includes resources for peer support, building resilience, and family support.

    Safe Call Now

    206-459-3020: This is a 24-hour crisis referral service for emergency services personnel and was established with the idea that no first responder should face a crisis alone. They work with a variety of groups to provide support and a safe place to turn for first responders.

    Mental Health Resources for Nurses

    Nurses have a higher risk of suicide than the general population and one of the key risks is job stress. Unfortunately, despite working in healthcare, the mindset that stigmatizes asking for help still exists.

    Working with mental health resources that create an atmosphere of acceptance and empathy can reduce the risk of burnout, depression, and suicide. While there is no foolproof way of preventing suicide, there are ways to reach nurses who are struggling and reduce the risk they will act on these thoughts.

    Therapy Aid Coalition

    • Recommended by the National Alliance on Mental Illness
    • Cost: Free or up to $100 based on self-reported ability to pay

    This free and low-cost option offered by the Therapy Aid Coalition was launched in March 2020 for healthcare professionals and first responders. The organization was developed and is run by volunteers whose goal is to expand the network of therapists nationwide and generate a treatment fund to help cover costs.

    The founder of the Therapy Aid Coalition lived through 9/11 and recognized the need to create a resource aimed at healthcare professionals. She contacted therapists across the country who agreed to donate sessions and reduce their fees. As such the organization does not serve the general public.

    Those seeking mental health services can search for therapists by filtering the list based on zip code, the highest fee you can afford, and the preferred therapy setting, which includes in person or online.

    The Emotional PPE Project

    • Recommended by the National Alliance on Mental Illness
    • Cost: Free for healthcare workers

    All services are offered to healthcare workers free of charge and without notifying your insurance for those who are struggling with the aftermath of the COVID pandemic. The organization maintains a directory of contact information of volunteer therapists that users can filter based on state, gender, and primary language.

    The Emotional PPE Project was created to help overcome obstacles to mental health resources for nurses, including concerns that getting help may have career consequences and finding therapists that take their insurance.

    The website is a directory only and does not collect data on visitors or those who contact therapists through the directory.

    The Battle Within

    • Recommended by the National Alliance on Mental Illness
    • Cost: Six free sessions

    The nonprofit organization serves first responders, medical personnel, and veterans who are coping with the stress of the COVID pandemic resulting from their service to the community. They offer a unique five-day program that helps people discover their traumatic injury, develop a set of skills to continue recovery, and develop a community of support.

    The Frontline Therapy Network, which is part of The Battle Within, offers up to six free, confidential sessions with a matched mental health provider. They are located in 20 states and growing. The organization has partnered with several organizations, including the University of Kansas Health System, Veteran’s United Foundation, and AT&T.

    Also available is a list of emergency services and crisis hotlines to help serve the community.

    American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress

    • Recommended by The National Center for Crisis Management

    The Academy is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2023. In collaboration with Green Cross Academy of Traumatology and CISM Perspectives, they maintain a list of mental health providers who run support groups for medical providers, including times and contact information.

    The organization’s mission is to increase awareness, help providers to look beyond physical needs, and establish standards, education, and training for crisis management professionals. They offer certifications in traumatic stress and crisis management specialties.

    The organization also helps support the Wounded Warrior Project and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Mental health professionals who choose to join the Academy can also volunteer to be deployed to areas in crisis.


    • Recommended by the American Nurses Association
    • Cost: Free for nursing professionals

    Happy is available as an app to employers and insurers to create frictionless access to mental health services. The organization operates as a proactive, peer-based mental health service to change how the delivery of services is executed. Ultimately, the company hopes to remove barriers that prevent people from receiving adequate services and support.

    Thanks to the Well-Being Initiative, they partnered with the American Nurses Association to address the needs of nurses without charge. Nurses only need to download the app to communicate with a mental health professional, call (833) 327-0262, or text their first name and ANA to (858) 367-3001.

    Happy claims that some of their greatest successes have been offering mental health support to healthcare professionals who don’t always have the energy or time to ask for it.

    Osmosis Nursing Resilience Course

    • Cost: Free materials

    This online, self-paced course was developed as an interactive means of mental health training for nurses. It includes eight modules of video, text, and assessments. It confers 3.75 continuing education (CE) credits approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing.

    Multiple faculty developed the learning materials, which are free to nurses. At the conclusion of the course, nurses will be able to identify the physiological changes associated with stress, anxiety, and burnout, access ways to self-identify those changes, and implement strategies to avoid burnout.

    Heroes Health

    • Cost: Free version for individual nurses, but you may get more specific resources if your employer signed up as an organization leader

    This online app measures and tracks your mental health by asking a 5-minute set of weekly questions that empower nurses to identify changes in their mental health and seek help early.

    Users can access a list of vetted crisis counseling agencies and wellness tools, which enables them to speak to a mental health counselor, get support by text, or receive support for opioid dependence. Within the app, users also have access to search engines that help find free or reduced-cost services in their local area.

    Heroes health, originally developed by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, has transitioned to Marvin Online Teletherapy, which is continuing to offer free personalized outreach for mental health services.


    • Recommended by the American Nurses Foundation
    • Cost: Free for nurses through the American Nurses Association

    Thanks to a grant from the American Nurses Foundation, nurses across the U.S. have access to the full version of Moodfit without charge. This app was voted the best overall mental health app in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

    Nurses have access to tools, insights, and education that recognizes there is no one-size-fits-all solution to good mental health. The app helps nurses to reduce stress and build resilience by learning what affects their mental health, beating procrastination, and helping nurses to respond rather than react to situations.

    There are also tools to help nurses rewire their thinking so it no longer negatively impacts their behavior. Examples include breath work, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more.

    The Schwartz Center Mental Health Resources

    • Cost: Free resources and additional support if you become a Schwartz Center healthcare member

    The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare maintains a list of resources to support mental health and well-being for healthcare workers. These resources address preventing and managing stress as well as resources that are specific to the COVID pandemic. Included are ways to deal with workplace violence, resources for healthcare leaders, and guides for families of healthcare workers.


    • Cost: Free

    This is a volunteer-led initiative that was created in response to the COVID pandemic. The group does not offer licensed mental health services and recommends nurses who are in crisis should seek care immediately. The online, videoconference service was created for nurses to develop greater resilience and reduce stress.

    They offer no-cost, confidential groups for nurses to interact at a variety of times and days throughout the week. The groups run for about one hour and are facilitated by 1-2 persons; typically between 4-12 nurses participate.

    Group activities blend mindfulness practices, emotional skill building, and sharing/processing. The facilitators are experienced volunteers that come from different backgrounds, including not-for-profits, social work, and mental health.

    American Holistic Nurses Association

    • Cost: Free resources and most CEs are between $8-$15 depending on whether you’re a member

    The association focuses on holistic self-care strategies for nurses to overcome the psychological and physical effects of stress. They offer tools for self-reflection, self-care, and dealing with stress.

    Nurses may also earn contact hours through peer-reviewed programs that are online, self-paced home study courses or at live events. A unique three-session program prepares nurses to take the American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation examination.

    In addition to these resources, the association provides holistic practice and self-care modality tool kits for nurses, some of which also include contact hours.

    Self-Care for Healthcare Workers

    • Cost: Free

    This one-page program is offered by the Center for Patient Safety and focuses on developing a culture of self-care for staff. It includes exercises to address breathing, meditation, stress relief, and yoga. Their mission is to reduce preventable harm by helping nurses and leadership strengthen safety culture and build the necessary skills in healthcare staff.

    Additional Mental Health Resources for Nurses


    Assessing and Maintaining Your Mental Health as a Nurse

    The American Nurses Association recognizes a long list of risk factors that contribute to the higher risk of suicide in the nursing profession. These include exposure to repeated trauma, inadequate self-care, feeling unsupported, workplace violence, incivility, and bullying.

    Nursing care is intimately connected to a nurse’s mental health. It is vital to support mental health resources for nurses and more mental health days for nurses since nurses must often function at the highest possible level. Stressors can lead to a host of mental health challenges, including depression as a nurse, anxiety, and burnout.

    When mental health is diminished, the quality of care usually suffers. Nurses should look out for signs in themselves and their colleagues that indicate they may require additional support and treatment. These include:

    Physical Symptoms

    • Rapid heart rate
    • Muscle tension
    • Gastrointestinal distress
    • High startle response
    • Nightmares or flashbacks
    • Headaches
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Chronic exhaustion
    • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

    Emotional and Cognitive Symptoms

    • Anger
    • Fear
    • Frustration
    • Anxiety
    • Sadness
    • Guilt
    • Irritability
    • Difficulty thinking clearly
    • Difficulty problem-solving
    • Difficulty remembering instructions

    Social Impacts

    • Unnecessary risk-taking
    • Substance misuse
    • Blaming others
    • Conflicts
    • Withdrawal and isolation
    • Becoming clingy or needy

    Page last reviewed April 9, 2023