The International Council of Nurses has stated that “As nurses form the largest part of the mental health workforce, the key to transforming mental health care lies in strengthening the mental health nursing workforce.”  

We need to support nurses and provide them with the resources, help, and education they need to provide mental health care to the patients they encounter. We are also aware that providing this care takes a toll on the nursing workforce which means that we also need to strengthen the mental health support for nurses as well.  

Whether nurses are specialised in mental health or not, they encounter mental health issues regularly. In fact, we learned from Gaia Toffolo, a Paediatric Nurse working in a Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) Unit that she encounters mental health issues in the parents and guardians of the patients she works with every single day. We invited her to talk about what she wishes more people understood about mental health. 

“Tell them not to be afraid to ask for help, because when we take care of our mental health, our lives just get a bit easier,” Gaia shared with us, because she wishes that there was no shame in asking for help. Working in the NICU, Gaia shared that she sees so many parents struggling.

Watch this interview or read it below.

Tell us a little about yourself— what’s your name, where are you from, what do you do?

Gaia Toffolo: “I’m Gaia, from Italy. I’m a Paediatric Nurse and I work in a NICU unit.”

How important is the work of the Women’s Brain Project to you?

Gaia Toffolo: “I learned about the Women’s Brain Project through a friend. I think it’s very, very important because it highlights the importance of mental health. It’s wonderful because sometimes we forget about mental health in our lives.”

As a NICU Nurse, what do you wish more people understood about mental health?

Gaia Toffolo: “As a nurse, I see a lot of people, particularly parents, struggling with their mental health, and I’d like for people to understand that there are a lot of factors as to why people struggle with their mental health— and who are we to judge them? I think that we can just try to come forward to them and tell them not to be afraid to ask for help, because when we take care of our mental health, our lives just get a bit easier.”

A note from the Women’s Brain Project

At the Women’s Brain Project we are working to establish the Research Institute for Sex and Gender Precision Medicine because we believe that by studying the sex and gender differences in brain and mental disorders will allow us to better care for and support individuals of all sex and genders around the world. Please consider supporting our work by donating.

About Gaia

Gaia Toffolo is a young Paediatric Nurse currently works in a NICU Unit. She was born and raised in Italy and she loves to travel. She is passionate about the topic of health, especially mental health, and was featured as a guest on the Italian Podcast “Ma Non Sembri Malata”.

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