The National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) has rolled out two major health campaigns for Black nurses under the auspices of their new wellness initiative, NBNA Resilient Nurse Resource™.
The first campaign, RETHINK, launched on December 7, urges Black nurses to trust the science behind vaccines and safeguard their health by getting annual flu/pneumococcal vaccinations. The site provides essential facts on the viruses that kill tens of thousands of Americans every year and seeks to counter vaccine hesitancy.
The RETHINK site also features a short video filled with evocative images of Black nurses vaccinating Black adults and children. (The video will be available to a variety of institutions, hospitals, schools of nursing, managed care organizations, and other places where nurses work). Anchored by strong, positive depictions of African American healthcare providers, the imagery shows Black nurses availing themselves of life-saving public health initiatives to stay healthy as they work toward a future that consigns America’s dark history of medical mistreatment of Black bodies to the past.
In fairness, that dark history casts a long shadow. The subjection of enslaved people to brutal experimental surgeries and treatments was followed by further inhumane practices after emancipation. And, although the notorious 1930-72 Tuskegee experiments might have been the last deliberate, organized program of medical abuse, numerous academic studies and countless patients attest to the present-day neglect, dismissal, ignorance, bias, and indifference displayed by many White HCPs. Renee Mahaffey Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Closing the Health Gap in Cincinnati, recently told CNN that people tend to place more trust in leaders who look like them than White officials from the CDC or FDA. Harris said, “It must be a Black person talking to a Black person. You’re not going to all of a sudden trust a group of people that you have [long] mistrusted just because the science says this.”
The NBNA RETHINK campaign calls upon Black nurses to get vaccinated to protect their health, and by looking after themselves, it is to be hoped that their example inspires other people of color to “rethink” their attitudes toward vaccination. In addition to the video, the site features an interactive “Test Your Flu IQ” quiz on the flu and flu vaccines, and a vaccination locator to find flu/pneumococcal vaccine providers throughout the US. To visit the site, click on www.nbnaRETHINK.com.
Mental wellbeing is the focus of the second Resilient Nurse Resource™ program, RE:SET, rolled out on December 15. RE:SET offers a wide range of free mental health services to support NBNA members as they navigate the stressful environment of the pandemic at work and at home. With support from the Pfizer Foundation, RE:SET provides members and their families with access to free HIPAA compliant therapy sessions (with the option to choose African American therapists), 24/7 telephone support, text-based therapy, behavioral health programs, and work-life services. Other complimentary resources include a special webinar series on mental health issues, and wellness podcasts featuring Joe Clair, MC Lyte, and others, to aid NBNA members in maintaining their mental wellness throughout the pandemic.
RE:SET is also designed to encourage Black nurses to combat the stigma in the Black community surrounding mental health. This, in addition to the lack of providers from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds and culturally competent providers, contributes to only one-in-three African Americans receiving mental health treatment. RE:SET addresses members of an underserved population at a time when nurses are experiencing unprecedented levels of burnout, anxiety, and uncertainty. Dr. Martha A. Dawson, NBNA President, said, “It is crucial that we protect our nurses’ physical and mental wellbeing during such an unprecedented time in our country. With RE:SET we are able to provide them with the tools necessary to recover from the daily stresses of exhausting working conditions and challenges. It is essentially PPE for their mental and emotional health, which will help to impact their physical health.”
To learn more about the RE:SET free tools and other resources, visit, www.nbnaRESET.com.
To become a member of the National Black Nurses Association and learn more about the services NBNA provides, visit www.nbna.org.