Nursing telehealth counselling service offers ongoing support and care

Last updated on 10 April 2024

Nurses can call a new counselling service for ongoing peer-led support. [Source: Shutterstock]

Aged care nurses can benefit from a brand new peer-led telehealth counselling service that provides ongoing, thorough support for all nurses, midwives and students across Australia.

Key points

  • Nurse Midwife Health Program Australia (NMHPA) is an independent health and wellbeing service that offers free counselling and case management to nurses, midwives, and students
  • Available 9-5pm Monday to Friday, it offers confidential support and continuous care for people struggling mentally or physically to help set goals, develop a health plan or just to better understand what is going on
  • Nurses and midwives deliver the telehealth service to ensure users are speaking with people who understand their situation as a nurse in all settings

Speaking to hello leaders, NMHPA Deputy Implementation Director Mark Aitken said the telehealth counselling service is critical to address high rates of burnout in aged care plus the everyday health battles the workforce faces.

“Nurses and midwives are not immune from experiencing mental health issues and chronic health conditions. Compounded on that is the burden of our work,” he said. 

“Aged care is physically intensive work with a huge mental load because we see and do things the rest of the population probably would never be exposed to. Having been a nurse for 40 years, there’s a cumulative effect for some nurses and midwives of that burden of our work that exhibits itself in very particular, individual ways.”

Mr Aitken also highlighted the difficulties aged care nurses have faced over the last five or so years, beginning with the spotlight from the Royal Commission on Aged Care Quality and Safety, and continuing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve met a lot of nurses and midwives who say ‘I love it but it’s a tough job, it’s getting tougher, and working through the pandemic either broke me or nearly broke me’,” Mr Aitken added.

“The spotlight [of the Royal Commission] has exposed a lot of failings in the system and some of the nurses have taken that on personally as though they’re responsible for that.”

“Far too many nurses and midwives are exiting the profession prematurely because of those reasons.”

Putting yourself first

One of the standout features of NMHPA is that it caters for all nurses, midwives and students experiencing mental or physical health issues in their professional or personal lives. So while there is a focus on those who are dealing with something related to aged care, such as the loss of a resident or workplace bullying, support is available for home-related concerns like domestic violence or drug use.

NMHPA Deputy Implementation Director Mark Aitken. [Source: Supplied]

“Nurses and midwives experience higher levels of family violence than the rest of the population. We’re predominantly still a female-orientated profession so that brings all the complexities that some women experience in society around family violence and responsibilities like childcare or raising children,” Mr Aitken said. 

“As a nurse, people in my personal life lean on me for health-related issues. You carry that as well because there’s an expectation that nurses will step up and we generally do but not without impacting our own health.”

“My experience is that nurses and midwives leave their own health issues until they become quite advanced because we’re in the business of caring for others.”

Instead of putting yourself last and waiting until crisis point, he said to engage in your own health and self-care by:

  • Making it part of your daily routine
  • Developing your own self-care plan: “As nurses and midwives we develop care plans for our patients, why wouldn’t we do it for ourselves?”
  • Intentionally committing to your self-care and your health and well-being
  • Reaching out early for support

With a considerably complex number of challenges and obstacles to deal with, aged care nurses are truly deserving of an experienced support system. Mr Aitken told hello leaders that by having nurses and midwives on the other end of the line, users of the peer support and counselling services will feel more comfortable sharing their unique experiences.

Importantly, the NMHPA service complements the 24/7 Nurse & Midwife Support service which provides brief intervention counselling with referral pathways. 

“Australia is geographically a very vast country and nurses and midwives work in almost every part of this country. There’s over 450,000 of us, we’re like a small army,” Mr Aitken said.

“Now there’s an end-to-end service. So you have a terrible shift and finish at 11pm and you can’t drive home because you’re so upset. You ring Nurse & Midwife Support and you get to talk to somebody. They refer you to our [NMHPA] Service the next day where you can call us from 9 to 5 and get ongoing support.”

For more information on NMHPA, visit or call 1800 001 060 for peer support and specialist counselling services. 

mental health
human resources
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
staff support
physical health
Nurse Midwife Health Program Australia
peer-led counselling service
nurses support
Mark Aitken
counselling services