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May 18, 2021

A voice for mental health

This story is part of a Mental Health Awareness Month series highlighting Michigan State University research and expert knowledge.

Not only does College of Nursing instructor Michael Martel teach his students about mental health coping methods, he is a leading voice for his colleagues in health care.

While working as an emergency nurse, Martel saw many of his colleagues in a state of stress after treating patients, which led him to researching various coping methods and resources.

Through his research, Martel came across the U.S. Army Battle Buddy program. Martel is currently piloting a similar program with the advanced practice nursing, or APRN, students in the College of Nursing as a method of providing ongoing peer-to-peer emotional support.

On Jan. 27, 2021, he presented for a large group of health care workers across the state of Michigan as part of the CONversations Series. The coping methods that Martel focuses on include deep breathing, visualization and other mindfulness exercises.




“Nurses experience many stressors while caring for others,” Martel said. “Unfortunately, as nurses we often have little control over the stressors themselves, but what we do have is some control over the development of coping and self-care strategies to build resilience.”

new study shows that 45% of hospital staff members caring for COVID-19 patients have experienced a prevalence of stress while over 25% have experienced anxiety with depression not far behind. These numbers significantly increase in other parts of the globe, which speaks to the ongoing mental health crisis that health care workers face.


As the need for mental health resources continues to rise, Martel is expanding the reach of his expertise. In February of 2021, Martel presented for a group of nurses at McLaren Greater Lansing which was well received.

“The mental health and well-being of our nursing staff is crucial during the pandemic. The impact Michael’s presentation had on the MGL staff is still being felt a month later as nurses continue to view the recorded session and provide us with positive feedback,” said Amanda Lampron, director of Patient Care Services at McLaren Greater Lansing. “The partnership between McLaren and MSU to reinvent health care for the new health care campus continues to provide amazing opportunities, and we are excited for the future of nursing.”

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