March 31, 2020

We are another week into the COVID-19 pandemic and, as always, we hope that you, your family and your loved ones are staying healthy and well.
The Faculty of Medicine COVID-19 Task Force is inspired by the collective strength and vitality of our community of learners, faculty, staff and friends. The kindness and courage of everyone is shining brighter than ever during these days of uncertainty and anxiety. People are stepping up in different ways to support our efforts during this challenging time.
This week, we start to focus on ways we can support you during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting disruption and uncertainty can have an effect on everyone's mental and physical health. During this time, it is important that we take care of ourselves, alongside our families, friends and colleagues. Though some things are out of our control, we have the power to change what we can, by learning how to shift our perspectives about the things that affect our emotions, and by keeping track of the good things in our lives no matter how difficult or defeating life can sometimes feel.
To that end, we have established a Well-being Task Force to help improve the well-being of learners, faculty and staff in the Faculty of Medicine. We aim to optimize and sustain your morale and well-being through the development and dissemination of relevant communications which will be sent to you at regular and predictable times.
Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon we want to bring to you resources or suggestions about how to look after your health and well-being to help you navigate this period and, as importantly, to keep us all connected. We want to create a space where we all learn from each other, where each of us has to give in order to receive. At a time like this, we look to each other for solutions and support. We invite you to join us in our journey to enhance your own and others' well-being and send us (at any tips you have to share with us and our community.
Today, we recommend the following resources and suggestions from the Canadian Mental Health Association to help support your mental health:
- 6 tips to respond to employee anxiety about COVID-19:
- CMHA offers tips to support mental health amid concerns of COVID-19 pandemic:
- Pandemic pushing your anxiety buttons? [1]
Over the next few weeks we will explore what different areas in science teach us, not only about how to feel less stressed and less anxious, but how to flourish and build the sorts of habits that allow us to live a more fulfilling life. Although well-being may seem hard to define and achieve, there is a lot we can do to improve our lives and perspective, which will eventually lead to us feeling more energized, focused, fulfilled and at peace with ourselves. If we keep an open mind, learn and take some small steps every day, our level of well-being is likely to increase. Well-being can be taught and learned!
One of the books that influenced my practice of psychotherapy was 'Flourish' by Martin Seligman, University of Pennsylvania Professor of Psychology. Seligman was responsible for defining the term "PERMA," the root of many positive psychology and well-being theories around the world. The acronym stands for the five elements essential to lasting contentment:
Peace, gratitude, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity and love.
Losing ourselves to something provides us with a sense of "disappeared time."
Meaningful, positive relationships yield satisfaction.
Meaning comes from serving a cause bigger than ourselves, such as community.
To feel significant life satisfaction, we must strive to better ourselves in some way and acknowledge and celebrate our achievements.
I can assure you that the Well-being Task Force will bring to you scientific findings and simple tips in a way that you can apply in your daily lives. This will appeal to our own sense of meaning and purpose, thus adding positivity to our lives, as well. Read more here:
Sincerely yours,
Greg Radu                                                      Margaret Steele
Well-being Task Force, Lead                          Dean of Medicine
Assistant Dean, Student Affairs
Working for you on the Well-being Task Force:

  • Greg Radu, Assistant Dean, Office of Student Affairs, Lead
  • Ann Dorward, Assistant Dean, Research & Graduate Studies
  • Tracey Bridger, Wellness Team Co-chair
  • Teri Stuckless, Office of Student Affairs Director, UCL (Career Planning and Wellness);
  • Tracey Pittman, Academic Affairs Manager
  • Gerona McGrath, Education Specialist
  • Janet Norman, Human Resources Manager
  • Michelle Osmond, Communications Specialist
  • Jill Purcell, Office of Student Affairs Coordinator
  • Kelly Penton, Wellness Team Co-chair