Katrina Stephenson RN, BScN
Founder and CEO Nurse 2 Nurse Peer Support
VP Alberta Nurses Coalition for Harm Reduction
Mindful Nurse Gardener
MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) Certified
Over the last 16 years, I have passionately focused the majority of my nursing career in the harm reduction field and caring for individuals challenged by Concurrent Disorders; both mental health and substance use challenges, including trauma. I also have lived experiences, which supports my ways of knowing. I have compassionately cared for both my patients’ traumas and my own work-related occupational nursing stress injuries of PTSD, Anxiety with Panic, Severe Depression and Hypothyroidism.
In order for nurses to provide safe and holistic care, we need adequate supports from the government, insurance agencies, employers, regulatory bodies, unions, and peers in order to create psychologically safe workplaces.
The environments we work in have constrained budgets, politically we have governments cutting programs and threats to cut nursing positions. There are excessive workloads and little to no on-site wellness programs to buffer the stressors. We are exposed to much more trauma and violence than the public is aware of and we are not given all the tools to do our job.
As a nurse that has worked in these socio-political environments that are not all trauma informed and that are ideologically opposed to harm reduction, it can be very challenging and from my experience all the above puts us at risk for occupational stress injuries (OSI).
I believe it is essential for us all to care for each other. It is not ‘Them vs. Us’. We need to approach each other with compassion and understanding around mental health and substance use challenges in such a way to reduces shame and stigma.
Storytelling is my way and a powerful way to support changing the negative climate surrounding many mental health conditions and injuries we see in Nursing.
As someone who has cared for my own work related trauma injuries, in 2020, I founded Nurse 2 Nurse Peer Support with other lovely nurses to advocate, educate and support our nursing peers to prevent, mitigate and care for OSI. It is time for change and for us Nurses to have the supports necessary to continue the work we love to do.
“I may have been injured though I am far from being broken. And it is possible to heal and not do it alone.”