Supporting mental health and suicide prevention

A Call to Action for Governments and Health-care Leaders to Promote Practices and Work Environments to Support Optimal Mental Health and Wellbeing, Resilience and Suicide Prevention

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) advocate for the government to direct more funding for mental health programs and resources for Ontario nurses and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that RNAO advocate and urge government to include nurses in Bill 163, recognizing that nurses can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to workplace-related stressors and exposure to trauma, and deserve a fair and balanced approach to make sure that they receive prompt diagnosis, treatment and support so that they can return to their work and lives as soon as possible.


  • RNAO has been directly engaged in advancing preventative and responsive mental health interventions to support nurses experiencing work and life challenges.
  • Due to awareness raised by RNAO and other health organizations about the additional stress placed on front-line health workers during the pandemic, the Ontario government announced $12.4 million in investment to expand mental health and addictions (MHA) supports for front-line health-care workers. This investment includes $5.9 million for MHA services through hospitals, $1.9 million for increased access to clinical psychologists and $4.6 million for workplace mental health training. On this, RNAO has discussed the need to approve the services of RNs and NPs in initiating and delivering psychotherapy – who to this day encounter barriers – with government officials and insurance companies.
  • RNAO has also been directly engaged in the governance of the Nurses Health Program (NHP): both President Morgan Hoffarth and CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun serve as NHP board members (our CEO is the Vice-Chair) and RNAO’s communications director chairs the NHP communications committee. Dr. Grinspun is also a member of the Runnymede First Responders Wellness and Rehabilitation Centre, announced in October 2021 and now under construction.
  • Critically important is RNAO’s preventative policy work. RNAO insists that the best health strategy for nurses to maintain their wellbeing is a healthy work environment. In particular, workload and understaffing have worsened over time, and dramatically so throughout the pandemic. RNAO’s 2022 election platform and the public policy recommendations contained in our report released on May 12, 2022 – Nursing Through Crisis: A Comparative Perspective.
  • RNAO has also committed to programming to promote access to psychological and mental health support, prevention of nurse abuse, mentorship, participation in organizational decision-making, and the visibility and skill of nursing leaders, as outlined in part two of the Nursing Through Crisis report.
  • The association also continues to update its online resource that helps nurses identify and access existing psychosocial support resources available during the pandemic: Mental Health and Well Being: Resources for Psychosocial Support during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • RNAO has previously advocated for inclusion of nurses in Bill 163 on PTSD legislation – a change committed to by the previous government in Ontario. Sadly, to date this legislation has not been amended, and the policy department is presently reviewing further advocacy options.



Debra Lefebvre
Conflict of interest:

No known conflict of interest.

Year carried:
Last updated:
April 6, 2023