As a psychiatrist juggling work in a tertiary care hospital while homeschooling my two primary school children during this pandemic, I quickly realized that I needed to develop tools to keep myself physically and emotionally healthy – I needed to grab my psychological PPE.

I reached out to Françoise Mathieu and we developed a web-based presentation for the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, Continuing Professional Development. Many health care workers across Canada joined on May 27, 2020 to explore best practices to stay well.

We called it Psychological PPE: Exploring Compassion Fatigue and Learning how to Keep Ourselves Psychologically Well.

In this presentation, we discuss:

  • Understanding the “COVID-fog” & the impact of the pandemic on our energy and concentration
  • What is in our control and what isn’t
  • The COVID-19 risk and resiliency factors: personal factors, compassion fatigue & burnout
  • The importance of social support
  • How to strengthen our Psychological PPE

Since developing this tool, I have continued to increase my daily wellness practices: regular exercise, virtual coffee dates with colleagues, regular peer support meetings, reducing media exposure and I have also reminded myself of the importance of regular pauses during my busy days.

These strategies have had a powerful positive impact on my energy, focus and ability to self-regulate during challenging days.




Dr. Jennifer Russel is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She graduated from McMaster Medical School in 2005, and completed her Psychiatry Residency at the University of Toronto in 2010. She has been a TEND associate since 2019.

Her main area of focus has been working with youth with complex mental health difficulties such as severe mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, and neuropsychiatric disorders as well as with their families.


For more strategies we recommend:

Mathieu, F. (2020) This is a Marathon Not a Sprint

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