In Mount Sinai Hospital’s Emergency Department, Dr. Benjamin Rosen, Staff Psychiatrist, is answering to a new title, resiliency coach.

He’s been working with the team to help navigate new situations and address concerns that can come from working on the front-line during a pandemic. “As a coach, I do my best to help my colleagues to feel supported. It’s been inspirational for me to experience the devotion, kindness, and integrity of the people who work in the Emergency Department,” says Dr. Rosen.

Backed by the Psychiatry team at Sinai Health, a number of resiliency coaches are visiting teams at both Bridgepoint Active Healthcare and Mount Sinai Hospital, adding an extra layer of mental health support to our people during the COVID-19 pandemic. This can mean sharing resources and strategies for lowering anxiety, practicing breathing exercises, or helping arrange for transportation after a long shift.

 “We know that it is critical that our pandemic response includes attention to sustaining people psychologically,” says Dr. Lesley Wiesenfeld, Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Sinai Health. “We deployed our coaches early to help create a psychologically safe space for people to receive support with the hope that we could do our part to help colleagues providing direct care feel more confident and sustained in their work.

At Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, a weekly drop-in session lead by Mary (Yuanchun) Zheng a Mental Health Advanced Practice Nurse and Resilience Coach Mary (Yuanchun) Zheng Dr. Seema Khan, Psychiatrist, is also offered make mental health supports even more widely available.

“It’s a place where people feel safe, share their emotions and experiences, support each other, and learn about coping skills,” says Mary. “The weekly session is facilitated by myself and Dr. Khan, but a big focus is peers supporting peers.”

Dr. Robert Maunder, Chair in Health and Behaviour, Deputy Psychiatrist-in-Chief & Head of Psychiatry Research, is a champion of this approach. “We know from our prior work that when our employees and physicians feel heard and are able to make suggestions and ask questions, their mental health is much better than when they feel isolated,” says Dr. Maunder.

As Mental Health week is observed across Canada and physical distancing continues, it’s more important than ever to connect and lean on one another. For resources on mental health visit MentalHealthWeek.ca.

The Sinai Health Heroes story series highlights our people and their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.