Tasmanian mental health nurses are feeling overworked and unsupported in their workplace, a survey has revealed.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmania branch secretary Emily Shepherd said the results of the first resilience scan conducted by management of Statewide Mental Health Services were disappointing, but unsurprising.
"It backs up what we've been saying," Ms Shepherd said.
"There have certainly been concerns in relation to safety over a number of months, and our members feel, at times, not heard or listened to with concerns not acted on by management."
She said this included situations such as unsafe clinical environments with aggressive patients.
"The ANMF has had to advocate just for basic safety measures for members."
The scan showed that 69 per cent of respondents have trouble with sleep due to an inability to switch off, with work environments described as "like a traffic jam" and reports of staff retention challenges due to "toxic" work cultures.
She said for the North-West in particular this included a full-time staffing deficit being experienced at the Spencer Clinic, the mental health unit at the North West Regional Hospital.
However, Ms Shepherd said it was a promising sign that the health department was being open about the results, and that they conducted the survey in the first place.
"The fact that this scan has been done, and been released to all staff and not hidden... is positive. Any nursing specialty is one that can at times be really challenging, which is why it's so critical there are supports in place and appropriate support from management.
"Previously, it's been really challenging for ANMF in this space to get these issues taken up."
Mental health and wellbeing minister Jeremy Rockliff said the health department had already implemented changes to improve working conditions, including a governance restructure with a closer alignment between nursing and medical executives.
Mr Rockliff said a trial wellbeing program to support Mental Health Services staff will also be implemented, but exact details of what that will look like are not currently available.
"Statewide Mental Health Services management appreciates that there is more work to be done to strengthen their workforce and enhance their culture," he said.
"We are committed to improving the mental health of all Tasmanians and it is vital that those who work on the frontline of this critical area are well supported themselves."
Director of Services for Statewide Mental Health Services Catherine Schofield said her team was committed to better transparency and support make management practices "more visible and proactive, to ensure both senior and frontline leaders are actively consulting with their frontline staff".
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