School Nurses Mental Health Study

Mental Health of School Nurses in the United States during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Highlights from a national survey | March 7-30, 2022

A CDC study published in the Journal of School Nursing found that work stressors and COVID-19-related job duties were significantly associated with poor mental health symptoms among school nurses.1

In March 2022, CDC collaborated with the National Association of School Nurses and the National Association of State School Nurse Consultants to distribute a 121-item survey to school nurses in the United States. Overall, 7,971 school nurses responded from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, tribal nations, and US territories. This was the first nationwide survey focusing on the mental health of school nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings can help school leaders create supportive policies and practices to reduce workplace stressors and increase workplace supports for school nurses.

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Key Findings
Conditions Reported by School Nurses

Work Related Stressors
School nurses were more likely to report symptoms of mental health conditions if they:
nurse with head in hands
  • Worked >40 hours weekly
  • Reported inadequate staffing support or compensation
  • Experienced lack of peer, supervisor, or school leadership support
  • Felt unappreciated
  • Worried about workplace exposure to COVID-19
  • Reported stigma, discrimination, job-related threats, or harassment
  • Took on additional COVID-19-related job duties, such as notifying parents about COVID-19 quarantine and isolation or caring for students and staff suspected of having COVID-19

Overall, work-related stressors and COVID-19-related job duties were significantly associated with poor mental health symptoms among the school nurses who responded to the survey.

What Can Be Done
heart with medical cross over hand

Improving school nurse mental health is essential to creating safe environments for young people in our nation’s schools. Supportive policies and practices that can be put in place for school nurses can include providing adequate staffing, training, and support, especially for COVID-19 or future public health emergencies.

School leaders can:

  • Include school nurses in decision making about school health, especially during public health crises.
  • Provide tools and training for school principals and school nurse managers to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in team members and encourage them to seek help from qualified mental health professionals.
  • Designate school staff professional development days with workplace training on stress prevention, resilience, and skill building to defuse tense situations.
  • Hire enough staff to help address long work hours during public health emergencies.

Learn what CDC is doing to support evidence-based policies, practices, and programs for the health and emotional well-being of students and school employees, including school nurses and other school health services staff.

Need help? Know someone who does?

Contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you are experiencing mental health-related distress or are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

Connect with a trained crisis counselor. 988 is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365.

Visit the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for more information at