​Helping Health Care Workers

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health care workers faced exceptionally stressful, uncertain and demanding work conditions. These burdens elevated the risk for anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress and burnout.

Recognizing the need for effective support, UHN's Centre for Mental Health created UHN CARES (Coping and Resilience for Employees and Staff). It offered rapid-response, mental health support to all UHN staff members – from frontline workers to administrators.

The project team – led by Drs. Kathleen Sheehan, Suze Berkhout and Susan Abbey – implemented a stepped-care approach that provided a range of options tailored to individual needs including:

  • Self-directed mental health resources, such as videos and infographics;
  • Virtual group-based care, such as group therapy sessions and mindfulness meditation; and
  • Individual appointments with a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Three nurses putting on PPE
Photo credit: Dawn Lim Photography

Since it launched in April 2020, the program provided more than 1700+ appointments to support over 225 UHN team members. Online self-directed program resources generated 7,500 downloads.

UHN CARES was recognized in 2021 by the Innovation Fund Provincial Oversight Committee when it was awarded best project for improving the well-being of health care workers.

The project was funded by the MSH-UHN AMO Innovation Fund.

A note of thanks to the following individuals who helped support UHN CARES:

UHN CARES Project Leads

  • Project Leads: Drs. Kathleen Sheehan, Suze Berkhout and Susan Abbey
  • Project Administrator: Alison Seto
  • UHN psychiatrists and clinicians who provided care:
    • Dr. Tian Tian Bao
    • Dr. Kathleen Bingham
    • Dr. Sarah Bush
    • Dr. Mary Elliott
    • Dr. Carla Garcia
    • Dr. Raed Hawa
    • Dr. Hussein Hirjee
    • Dr. Diana Kljenak
    • Dr. Dilip Koshy
    • Dr. Madeline Li
    • Dr. Nancy Lin
    • Dr. Josée Lynch
    • Dr. Jody Morita
    • Dr. Christian Schulz-Quach
    • Dr. Donna Stewart
    • Dr. Michelle Sukhu
    • Dr. Paul Uy
    • Dr. Alan Wai
    • Dr. Justin Weissglas
    • Dr. Zohar Waisman
    • Dr. Richard Yanofsky
    • Dr. Orit Zamir
  • UHN nurses who took the lead on proactive outreach across UHN:
    • Sarah Beneteau
    • Edna Bonsu
    • Aideen Carroll
    • Jessica Campbell
    • Katie Langille
    • Linda Liu
    • Yeawon Shin
    • Shannon Wright
  • Lead psychologist Dr. Lesley Ruttan and UHN's Psychology team
    • ​Dr. David Gold
    • Dr. Robin Green
    • Dr. Adrienne Li
    • Dr. Mary Pat McAndrews
    • Dr. Martha McKay
    • Dr. Liesel-Ann Meusel
    • Dr. Rinat Nissim
    • Dr. Gilla Shapiro
    • Dr. Dalia Slonim
  • Carol Capristan and other staff that provided administrative support

Research Publications

During its operation, UHN CARES collected valuable data through interviews, surveys, forums, and feedback reports enabling the team to track evolving healthcare worker needs and adapt the program. This also fuelled research endeavors focused on establishing best practices to supporting healthcare workers during future emergencies. Below are a few noteworthy examples:

Back to Top