The COVID-19 pandemic is a major source of psychological distress for healthcare workers (HCW). Despite concerns about HCW mental health during and following the SARS and H1N1 pandemics, no evidence-based interventions have been developed for supporting HCW during these types of events which can be distressing to individuals and impact care at the systems level. In response to COVID19, the UHN COVID CARES program was created. We rapidly developed and rolled a stepped-care model of mental health supports for HCW at University Health Network (UHN). Using a novel mixed-methods approach based in a critical realist framework, we have conducted both a needs assessment for and evaluation of this program. This includes: surveys and qualitative interviews with potential and actual service users; group and individual discussions with service providers; and examining issues raised at virtual open forums for hospital staff where questions can anonymously be posed to senior leadership. This project will generate three crucial and timely outcomes to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic: (1) Critical knowledge concerning the nature of HCW distress, a serious challenge to maintaining a healthy and well workforce; (2) Identification of the supports most helpful to HCW, enhancing their ability to cope and remain resilient in their roles; (3) The revision and enhancement of supports, building a responsive support program. We aim to mobilize these outcomes through scholarly and public facing publications as well as through an online and social media strategy. 

Co-Principal Investigators: Drs. Kathleen Sheehan and Susan Abbey 

Project Funding: MSH-UHN AMO Innovation Fund