Mental Health Support for the Healthcare Workforce

Join providers and other health leaders coming together from across the country to share ways to proactively support the mental and emotional health of our healthcare workforce during the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly a thousand people from 11 states and two countries have participated.

As healthcare and mental health leaders share implementation strategies and practices in real time, ICSI collects and curates them to build a shared knowledge network and playbook.


Mental Health Support for the Workforce: Where Are We Now?

Join us on Wednesday, July 28th from 12:15 pm to 1 pm.

This webinar will wrap up our important series Mental Health Support for the Healthcare Workforce.

The series began in spring 2020 when Minnesota healthcare leaders came together to focus on the mental health of our healthcare workers during COVID-19.  As the pandemic enters a new phase, it is critical to understand the lessons learned and reflect on where we have been, where we are now, and where we need to be.

Mental Health Playbook

The Mental Health Playbook walks you through key steps to assess, plan and implement an organization-wide strategy that supports the current and long-term mental and emotional health of your workforce. Practical examples from the field are provided, with contact info so you can reach out to learn more. Download the Mental Health Playbook here.

Past Webinars

March 23, 2021

Supporting Staff During and After the Chauvin Trial  

Watch the webinar here.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leaders in healthcare share how they have built up and centered their efforts over the past year, and how they are now targeting support for people during this time of continued racial tensions and unrest.

Many thanks to the panelists:

Allina Health

Jacqueline Thomas-Hall, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Director

Kerri Gordon, VP Government & External Relations

M Health Fairview

Myat T.Tun, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program Manager

Erich Stolz-Spencer, System Executive HR & DEI Strategy Director

Key Takeaways

DEI must be centered and also be top-down; you must have leaders involved and advocating for these efforts. Implicit bias training, listening sessions and healing spaces/courageous conversations – with guidance and tools –  help people learn how to sit with discomfort, learn, and agree to disagree agreeably.

Key terminology to note includes:

  • The “death of George Floyd” vs the “murder of George Floyd”: Organizations need to take a stand on what they will say, even though not all staff may agree.
  • It’s the Derek Chauvin trial,  not the George Floyd trial.

Specifically this spring, Allina Health has

  • Engaged an attorney to help with a Separating Facts from Fiction series: Employee sessions to understand what to expect and what you may hear during the Chauvin Trial.
  • Planned an upcoming week-long reflection around the anniversary of George Floyd’s death.

M Health Fairview is

  • Partnering with DEI, Spiritual Health, and EAP partnership to offer Healing Space Conversations.
  • Planning reflection activities during George Floyd’s death anniversary and for Juneteenth.

March 9, 2021

Substance Use Disorder and Recovery for Physicians

Michael Koopmeiners, MD, is the Medical Director of Physicians Serving Physicians (PSP). Physicians Wellness Collaborative, a program of PSP, provides independent, confidential counseling and peer support resources for all Minnesota physicians, residents, and medical students.

Dr Koopmeiners shared tips for identifying and addressing substance use disorder.

Watch the webinar here.

Key Points

  • There’s a tendency to sweep early warning signals under the rug
  • Notice: need to move upstream of crisis to help physicians struggling
  • Look at how the system contributes, it always does in some way
  • What is the system willing to do differently?
  • Peer support specifically for physicians is very effective.

January 13, 2021

Clinicians’ experience during the pandemic:
Resource limitation and disrupted roles

Catherine (Kate) Butler, MD, MA, Nephrologist, Bioethicist and Acting Instructor at the University of Washington.

Dr. Butler’s team studied clinician experiences around the country regarding resources allocation during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a link to the JAMI Network open paper. Watch the webinar here.

Some key themes:

-Difficulty in adapting crisis standards theory to practice and explaining new practices to patients

-Unexpected types of resource allocation and scarcity

-Difficulty in keeping boundaries between work and home

-Internal and external conflict on professional duties and personal protection

-Better collaboration and sense of camaraderie, but also fractured relationships

-Excitement in helping to save lives but also coming to terms with providing a different and sometimes substandard type of care

-Both positive and negative emotions in work – often not mutually exclusive

The results are divided into two themes:

1)     Practice settings for crisis planning

2)     Impact on clinicians on professional roles and relationships

1.13.21 Webinar Summary


December 15, 2020 Panel Discussion

Watch this lively December webinar where healthcare leaders across the state discuss challenges, tips, and solutions, featuring panel members Karly Horn, Essentia Health, Lisa Bershok of CentraCare, Jeff Leichter of Sanford Health, and Joel Spoonheim of HealthPartners.

The panel discussed how the current surge in late 2020 is affecting staff – see the webinar/recording for myriad ways healthcare partners are addressing:

  • Fatigue (physical, mental) and disillusionment have set in as they maintain the intense pace/focus
  • People struggle with transitions from work environment to home
  • Staff need time and space to practice rituals around grief/loss with patient deaths

See this summary for ways organizations are addressing these needs.

Here’s the SAMHSA – Stages of adaptation to disaster shared by Jeff Leichter

An article shared by Lisa Bershok of CentraCare: Beyond Burnout: A Physician Wellness Hierarchy Designed to Prioritize Interventions at the Systems Level

Sanford’s Going Home Checklist for Staff (at end of shift):


Wednesday, September 9th | noon-1 pm CT

Jonathan Ripp, MD, MPH, Chief Wellness Officer, Mount Sinai Health System

Key takeaways:
•The approach to clinician well-being almost certainly requires a pivot in the midst of crisis
•Shifting needs and drivers of well-being may lead to shifting priorities as well as consideration of societal level factors
•But, pre-COVID models can still apply in many respects
•Trauma and Moral Distress will likely lead to significant long-term consequences including a large burden of PTSD, MDD and Anxiety
•Pre-existing well-being infrastructure can be critical in crisis
•Uncertainty is a huge source of anxiety and stress during a pandemic
•Regular, authentic, transparent and supportive communications can’t be overemphasized
•Everyone needs support, some will need treatment. Anticipating and providing for ongoing needs is necessary

Dr. Ripp has co-authored two important articles, links here:

Understanding and Addressing Sources of Anxiety Among Health Care Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Attending to the Emotional Well-Being of the Health Care Workforce in a New York City Health System During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Other resources shared:

Mount Sinai Toolkit for Pandemic Wellbeing

Staff Resources website at Mount Sinai

Wednesday, August 26 | noon-1 pm CT

Dr. Sue Scott, University of Missouri
Dr. Scott presented on the forYOU peer support model and also important research on the “second victim” experience of physicians and other healthcare providers:

  • More than 2/3 providers in adverse events experience vicarious trauma as a ‘second victim’
  • With support after an adverse event, providers move to feeling improved as caregivers; if not, they feel haunted, get re-traumatized
  • Tips from the forYOU peer support model – assess your internal resources, how can you harness them? And assess/turn to your community – harness those as well.
  • “Asking for help is hard, there’s stigma. That’s why we have to build help into our work, so it’s opt out for people rather than opt in.”

Dr. George Everly, Johns Hopkins School  of Public Health, Medicine

Leadership for Organizational Resiliency, Rapid Psychological First Aid

Dr. Everly supports and trains on crisis intervention and Psychological First Aid in communities and for governmental agencies nationally and internationally.  Key takeaways from this webinar include:

  • Resiliency CAN be trained and practiced and built in organizations. It starts with leaders, yet can’t rest there.
  • Leaders must not wait for certainty. Open communication is imperative: Truthfulness, transparency, and timeliness are watchwords at Johns Hopkins.
  • Crisis intervention training like PFA has been shown to have a positive effect 20+years later

The Rapid PFA course Dr. Everly developed and teaches is FREE in 2020 on Coursera:





Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye, Mayo Clinic:

Clinician Well-being programs during COVID-19, including new bereavement policy

Dr. Dyrbye presented on the high rate of clinician burnout prior to COVID-19, and that this time of crisis presents a need and opportunity for innovation to take a systems approach to support people:

  • Early on in COVID-19 they pushed out general resources, thinking only of frontline providers caring for COVID-19 patients. This was not the best strategy.
  • Thus, they have targeted different interventions to different groups. Building some new options and also building out further from existing ones, like scaling up a peer support group in the case of adverse events.
  • They also developed a Bereavement Response Plan in the event of an employee death, and for use beyond COVID-19.

Resources Shared:



CONSENSUS STUDY REPORT: Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout, National Academies of  Sciences, Engineering, Medicine

NOTE from Mental Health Minnesota: COVID Cares support phone line now has a toll-free number: 833-HERE4MN. The line offers free, confidential, anonymous support for healthcare workers, essential personnel and others. Staffed by volunteer mental health professionals, open 9AM to 9PM, seven days / week.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Dr. Albert Wu, Johns Hopkins University:

RISE Peer Support Program 

Using Johns Hopkins’ integrated program RISE – Resilience in Stressful Events – Peer Support Program as an example, Albert Wu, MD, MPH described steps healthcare institutions can take to support healthcare workers. The presentation describes:

  • Leadership strategies specific to crises
  • A variety of programs to serve all staff; e.g., the RISE program is now getting numerous calls from janitorial, food service, laundry, and other staff who haven’t typically sought emotional support through RISE
  • RISE peer support rose to over 2,000 calls/sessions in 100 days over the peak of COVID; more than they served since RISE started in 2011.
  • Peer responders (71) are trained in Rapid Psychological First Aid, developed by Dr. George Everly. This online course is free on Coursera.

Presenter: Dr. Wu leads the PhD program in health services research, the Masters of Applied Science in Patient Safety & Healthcare Quality, and the Certificate program in Quality, Patient Safety and Outcomes Research in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He maintains a clinical practice in general internal medicine.

Resources Shared:

ARTICLE: Supporting the Emotional Well-being of Health Care Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

ARTICLE: COVID-19: Peer Support and Crisis Communication Strategies to Promote Institutional Resilience
Rapid Psychological First Aid, developed by Dr. George Everly. This online course is free on Coursera.



Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Resiliency Rooms – a highly utilized program/space for healthcare workers 

This presentation reviewed best practices around resiliency rooms – how to get buy-in from leadership, how to set them up, and how to maintain them. The call highlighted the resiliency rooms that have been created at Children’s MN.  These resiliency rooms are located at both hospital campuses and since COVID-19 started, the resiliency rooms have had 10,521 visits to date. In addition, S.E.L.F care plans were introduced as a useful tool to write down triggers and coping strategies, and the Going Home Checklist is another tool intended to help ALL staff reflect and re-center before changing gears for life at home. Overall, the presentation confirmed why Children’s MN peer support program has been such an important resource during COVID.


  • Cally Qutechat, On-Site Health and Well-Being Program Manager at HealthPartners
  • Kerry Appleton, Clinical Education Specialist at Children’s MN

Resources shared:

Children’s MN – Resiliency Rooms

Children’s MN – Peer Support

CALL SUMMARY: July 1, 2020

CALL RECORDING: July 1, 2020


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Operationalizing Warmlines: A Panel Conversation 

Very much a work in process for all, presenters shared specific implementation tips and challenges, including ways they have worked to increase uptake by expanding the scope to not be COVID specific, increasing/changing hours, and/or by expanding eligibility to other groups of people. Uptake has been slow for most, although has risen recently for some following the death of George Floyd. There was discussion about potential barriers when confidentiality seems not assured, and about whether we will see increased need over time, as per analysis from Washington state. See resources below.


  • Jackie Buboltz, Mission Integration Director, West Market, Essentia Health
  • Brent Walden, PhD, Chief of Psychology, Hennepin Healthcare
  • John Drussell, LICSW, MSW, Mayo Clinic
  • Shannah Mulvihill, MA, CFRE, Executive Director, Mental Health Minnesota and Linda Vukelich, Executive Director, Minnesota Psychiatric Society, on COVID Cares line

Resources shared:

Psychological First Aid Training via National Center for PTSD

Hennepin Healthcare Warmline Flyer

COVID Cares website, anonymous, for any healthcare worker, teachers, others

Washington State Forecast for BH need

CALL SUMMARY June 17, 2020

CALL RECORDING June 17, 2020


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Leaders from University of Minnesota and MHealth Fairview presented the Minnesota Resilience Action Plan (MinnRAP): Providing Peer and Emotional Support to Frontline Workers. MinnRAP uses a buddy system, a model used by US Army (Battle Buddy) for peer mentoring and support.  Having a Buddy helps to:

  •  Validate experiences
  • Identify and address stressors early
  • Keep work at work
  • Develop and maintain resilience

Click here for implementation tips, literature and more from the team at University of Minnesota.

In light of current events in our community and the nation, the topic of racism and its effect on health was greatly discussed and the group acknowledged the disproportionate impact of COVID deaths on people of color. The group also started out the discussion with how stress impacts brain and ways to manage it individually and collectively.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

  • Ryan Pope of Carris Health Redwood presented on Using Feedback to Build Support. Their employee-wide surveys and interview info informed their programming; on-demand resources have been well-utilized and strategic communications have been critical as people have felt overloaded with information. Info on Collective Coping shared with staff has also been useful.
  • Dawn Mansergh of HealthPartners presented on Team Debriefing, A Tool for Leaders. Using Psychological First Aid, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing requests have doubled compared to the same period last year. 


Call Recording

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

  • Valerie Longfellow & Michael White of HealthPartners presented on their new Grocery 2 Go program at Regions, implemented to help reduce stress and save time for their staff. Low-stock items like toilet paper and boxes of fresh fruits and veggies are especially popular. CentraCare Health has implemented a similar program.
  • Jen Boulton of Vail Place, a community mental health program, presented on their work and the myriad ways they are staying connected in their new virtual world. Staff are reporting feeling more connected than before.
  • Gina Dixon of Essentia Health Grief Support Services shared an overview of their services. A peer support program for staff established to provide emotional first aid to help manage stress during crisis has been particularly effective.


Call Recording

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

  • Shannah Mulvihill of Mental Health Minnesota presented on their peer support services, including a warmline widely available to the community, and how they are supporting their certified peer support specialists during this time. Warmline use has increased significantly in the last two months, and there is increased need to address social isolation.
  • Jodie Dvorkin of ICSI shared advice from health leaders in New York and others on how to support staff during the COVID-19 crisis. Bi-directional communication – asking staff what they need and getting feedback what works, is critical.
  • Linda Vukelich of Minnesota Psychiatric Society updated on the COVID Cares mental health helpline for frontline health care workers. Please post the COVID Cares flyer / share broadly with your employees as a resource.

Call Recording
COVID Cares Flyer

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

  • Molly Beckstrom and Jennifer Encinger of MHealth-Fairview shared how they have built an internal EAP for providers.
  • Quanah Walker of HealthPartners shared supports being rolled out through their wellness programs.

Call Recording

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

On Tuesday, April 14 we dove into ways to determine interventions for specific populations within the workforce.Thank you to Jeff Leichter of Sanford and Lisa Bershok of CentraCare for sharing their work.