Strengthening Resilience in the Time of COVID

The Office of the Chief Academic Officer facilitates peer support for faculty and trainees

July 13, 2021

Even though many of McLean’s faculty and trainees attend their share of daily Zoom meetings, one meeting in particular has become a welcome respite from the others.

A virtual peer support series offered by McLean’s Office of the Chief Academic Officer, “Strengthening Resilience in the Time of COVID,” offers an opportunity for participants to problem-solve and discuss resilience in the face of stressors brought on and exacerbated by the pandemic.

Chief Academic Officer Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH, and Clinical Director of the Division of Depression and Anxiety Disorders Jane Eisen, MD, founded the series, in which hour-long drop-in sessions are offered one to two times each month.

“During the immense challenges of COVID, the national unrest and distress related to racism, the increasing urgency of climate change, and the tense political climate, McLean’s faculty and trainees rallied to address massive logistical, research, and clinical issues,” Greenfield said.

She described how staff have come to work and problem-solved while being concerned about the welfare of family and friends and a myriad of personal challenges with child care and schooling. She added that many researchers and clinicians have been working from home and also confronting next steps during recovery planning.

Illustration of people standing under umbrella with another person running toward them

Over the past several months, the group’s conversations evolved as the pandemic unfolded. Topics ranged from the reorganization of participants’ daily lives to how to support each other through the collective trauma and loss experienced by everyone.

“This forum provided a chance for the faculty and trainees to get to know each other in an informal setting,” added Eisen. “We were able to share experiences, both disheartening and positive, as COVID, political, and racial/social justice events swirled around us. Even though I was a co-leader, I felt that I learned something from the participants at each session. It reinforced how collaborative the environment is at McLean, which I hugely appreciate.”

“The peer support series has been a wonderful source of support, validation, and connection during this challenging time,” said Laura Payne, PhD, director of the Clinical and Translational Pain Research Laboratory at McLean.

“Drs. Eisen and Greenfield carefully guide each meeting with kindness and compassion, which provides the space for anyone to openly express struggles or successes,” Payne expressed. “Overall, it’s given me an invaluable opportunity to connect with colleagues on a deeply personal level, where all experiences and perspectives are welcomed and honored.”

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