Chair's Message – COVID and Mental Health Continuum

Things are not looking good in Ontario and in Canada overall in the last couple of weeks with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this second wave it appears that the virus is spreading easily in the community. Many cases can be linked to community gatherings in homes but many cases cannot be linked to known cases, which means that there is asymptomatic spread of the virus in the community and these examples are increasingly common.

This means that we have to assume that the virus is everywhere around us and we have to be as diligent as possible with the most important public health measures, hand washing, mask wearing (a three layer mask is best), and physical distancing to try and break the transmission.

So, how are you personally feeling about this?

I confess to feeling more anxious about this second wave myself because I see how our efforts to tamp down transmission in the first wave helped but didn’t get rid of the problem. It would be natural for us to feel more anxiety as things appear to be getting worse lately. Fortunately there are ways to monitor this and know when help may be needed.

Susan Fahner, from Medical Affairs at LHSC, recently asked the clinical chairs to do a small exercise based on the Mental Health Continuum Model put out by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. I am providing the link here for you to check this out.

The model illustrates four stages across the continuum from Healthy through, Reacting, Injured, and finally Ill, the final stage. Signs and indicators are listed for each stage and actions to take at each phase are provided.

I encourage you to take a look at this model and determine where you are in the continuum. Some of us may manifest signs in the Reacting Stage such as increased nervousness and irritability, sadness and trouble sleeping, among other things. These signs could indicate that you need some extra help and support. Within our department help is available through myself or Dr. Susan McNair, our Schulich wellness representative.

I hope we can face this situation in the next few weeks with increased resolve, with attention to public health measures, and personal help and support as needed.

Thank you for all you are doing to meet this pandemic. I hope you can each find some peace and security during this coming Christmas season.

As always I welcome your comments and feedback at or Twitter @DOCSJW.