When Depletion Becomes the Norm: Managing Our Energy

Released November 2021

As the collateral damage from the pandemic continues to shape the ways in which we live and work, the workforce is changing in significant ways. Economists are heralding “the great resignation” – according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs this summer. A similar statistic can be seen in Canada with 51% of senior managers considering leaving, retiring, or “downshifting” to a less-demanding position. In our work, we have seen rising rates of burnout and moral distress across sectors in both frontline, administrative, and managerial positions.

The good news is that the human capacity to adjust to a “new normal” is nothing short of impressive. This month we will explore solutions to managing our energy and addressing depletion.

 Voices from the Field  Dr. Dzung Vo and Françoise Mathieu discuss Dr. Vo’s work as the founding Director of the BC Children’s Hospital Centre for Mindfulness and share strategies to encourage others to try mindfulness for themselves.

Audio Version

Involving adolescents in mindfulness practice (01:18)

Maintaining micro-strategies while experiencing difficult times (08:00)

Mindfulness and ADHD (13:38)

What is the “Mindfulness Hospital”? (15:25)

Power of the pause and the S.T.O.P meditation (18:37)

Recommended Resources (20:27)

Dzung X. Vo, MD, is a pediatrician specializing in Adolescent Medicine, founding Director of the BC Children’s Hospital Centre for Mindfulness, and a Clinical Associate Professor and Division Head for the Division of Adolescent Health and Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, at BC Children’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

In partnership with Dr. Jake Locke, Dr. Vo co-developed MARS-A (Mindful Awareness and Resilience Skills for Adolescents), an eight-week mindfulness training program for adolescents with depressive symptoms, with or without other co-occurring chronic illness or chronic pain. Dr. Vo also developed a Mindful Healing course for health care providers, adapted from Mindful Practice (Ron Epstein and Michael Krasner) and other sources.

Looking Back Before Moving Forward: Tools to Manage Anger & Grief

Released October 2021

In our work with organizations and staff over the past few months, we have heard many individuals who work in the human service fields express powerful feelings of anger and grief in reaction to the pandemic. Many have felt anger towards workplaces decisions, behaviours, and policies, while others towards polarized and aggressive behaviours concerning vaccine requirements and mask mandates. Others have shared experiences of unresolved grief, both in their personal lives and in the workplace.

This month, we explore rituals and strategies to help process and manage feelings of anger and grief.

 Voices from the Field  Dr. Brian Miller and Françoise discuss career sustaining practices, the CE-CERT model, and challenge the notion of “bucking up” to address traumatic experiences.

Audio Version

What is the CE-CERT Model? (02:24)

What is autonomic dysregulation? (04:48)

Decreasing rumination (06:25)

“I am willing to have my heart broken today” (07:57)

Notions of bucking up and maintaining our sense of emotional well-being while doing difficult work (09:35)

Quick and profound daily practices (13:20)

The state of overwhelm (16:29)

Dr. Brian Miller’s recommended resources (20:52)

Dr. Brian Miller provides training and consultation on topics of secondary trauma, trauma informed supervision, and implementation processes. His book, Reducing Secondary Traumatic Stress: Skills for Sustaining a Career in the Helping Professions was released in July of this year.

Dr. Miller’s experience includes tenure as Director of Children’s Behavioral Health at Primary Children’s Hospital, Director of Mental Health Services for Salt Lake County; Director of the Trauma Program for Families with Young Children at The Children’s Center in Salt Lake City; Clinical Director of Davis Behavioral Health, Associate Director of the Utah State Division of Mental Health; and as a psychotherapist in private practice.

He holds a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was a Mandel Leadership Fellow. He is the past board president for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Utah Chapter, and serves on the editorial review boards for the journals Traumatology and Contemporary Psychotherapy. He serves on the Governor’s Commission on Education and Mental Health and is a member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Visit his website at www.seacertain.com (launching soon)

Here We Go (Again): Finding Joy During Turbulent Times

Released September 2021

As we move into our second pandemic Fall, there is a lot going in our communities: many helping professionals are trying to catch their breath after the intense pace of the last year and a half; the delta variant is giving us a run for our money; and, for parents and caregivers of school-aged children, the return to the classroom is raising many concerns.

We had all hoped for a better understanding of how things will unfold with the pandemic this Fall – however, this has not happened. How do we acknowledge that the pandemic is still with us and how do we come to terms with the fact that many of the stressors that existed long before COVID are still here?

This month we focus on what we can control and look to find joy during these turbulent times.

 Voices from the Field  Dr. Alana Hirsh and Françoise explore the impact of the pandemic on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the inequity of taking a break, and adopting a stance of compassion – both in person and online.

Audio Version

How the pandemic has impacted the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, BC (2:11) 

How Kilala Lelum “walks the walk” to support staff (5:05) 

Addiction as a metaphor (8:41) 

Inequity & taking a break (10:20) 

Increased substance use during the pandemic (11:44)

Alana’s strategies to stay “well enough” during the pandemic (14:24) 

Extreme compassion (18:05) 

Twitter & shifting to a stance of compassion (21:50)

Alana’s recommended resources (22:36) 

Dr. Alana Hirsh is a family physician and a UBC Clinical Assistant Professor who specializes in addiction medicine and the integration of trauma and substance use disorder treatment. She writes and speaks on the topics of addiction, trauma, self-compassion, burnout, and her experience with postpartum depression.

Trained at McGill and UBC, Alana has practiced in a variety of settings, from inner cities to remote areas in Canada, the United States, and Liberia. She currently works in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, on the front lines of BC’s overdose epidemic, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

Addiction & Mental Health Resources: 

Additional Resources: 

Summertime Psychological PPE: Taking Stock & Resetting Before the Fall

Released August 2021

Many people are taking time to slow down and refuel before the Fall. This month, Françoise connects with Doron Gold, a therapist and lawyer, to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the legal profession. We also take time to connect with Kathleen Gorman, trauma therapist and TEND Associate, to discuss her work with Indigenous communities.

 Voices from the Field  In this interview, Françoise chats with Doron Gold, a psychotherapist and former litigation lawyer based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Doron’s personal experience working in the legal profession, coupled with his many years of working in the lawyer assistance field have given him a unique and valuable perspective on the challenges faced by those in the legal profession.

We discuss:

  • What tools did lawyers use to cope during the pandemic?
  • How is the legal profession feeling about being asked to return to the office?
  • Personal strategies used by Doron while providing online counselling to his clients

Audio Version

Coping during the pandemic (1:07)

Return to work in fall 2021 (15:03)

Strategies to stay well during the pandemic lockdowns (26:55)

Doron’s favourite resources (32:32)

Doron Gold, BA, JD, MSW, RSW, is a psychotherapist and former practicing lawyer living and working in Toronto, Canada. He is registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers as well as with the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Doron’s practice focuses on individual, family and group therapy related to issues of depression, anxiety, career and family stress and addiction. He works primarily with lawyers, law students, judges as well as other professionals.


Understanding Post-Traumatic Growth

Released July 2021

This month, we are exploring the concept of Post-Traumatic Growth. As we slowly reopen and return to the office or come back from redeployments, it feels like an important time to pause and take stock of the past nearly 500 days of the pandemic.

 Voices from the Field  We explore: Barriers to post traumatic growth, Good vs. punitive leadership – is there an opportunity for repair?, & how finding the right coping strategies is less of a “”one size fits all”” design.

The problem with the hyper-individualistic focus on Post-Traumatic Growth (1:33)

Is it too soon to talk about Post-Traumatic Growth when it comes to the pandemic? (4:42)

Good leaders vs. Punitive leaders: Contrasting messages from the workplace (7:05) 

Sarah’s own experiences & relationship with coping strategies during the pandemic (16:52) 

What are your top resources? (25:05)

Sarah Stewart, RSW is a TEND associate and Certified Trainer of Transforming Compassion Fatigue and Mental Health First Aid Basic and Youth courses.
Sarah has developed trainings on trauma-informed practice, workplace mental health, team debriefing, and work-life balance for corporations, non-profit agencies, and small businesses. She is passionate about promoting a social justice-based approach to wellness and sustainability in helping professionals, de-stigmatizing mental health problems, and improving mental health-related accessibility.

Boundaries: A Deep Dive, Part Two

Released June 2021

This month, we are doing a deep dive part two on the topic of boundaries. We began exploring this in our January 2021 show which we called “Why are you texting me a picture of your rash? Understanding boundaries and setting limits.”

As many of us in North America face the “next normal” of the pandemic there are many issues on all of our minds: What will the Fall look like in terms of our work realities, what will it be like when people return to work or are done with their special deployments? We know that when things settle a bit, more of us will have a bit more of a chance to process the emotional impact of the past 400 days. So we felt that focusing on work boundaries was an important conversation to have right now.

 Voices from the Field  Growing up in the Greater Toronto, Mardi Daley lived with chronic homelessness from the age of 7 until very recently, and in spite of chronic housing insecurity, she managed to excel in high school and obtained a scholarship to go to university. Mardi is now an advocate for youth living with homelessness and is a certified peer specialist with the mental health commission of Canada. She is also a consultant and the founder of Lived Experience Lab. During their conversation, Mardi and Françoise talked about the challenges of setting boundaries when you’re a lived experience peer advocate and mentor. You will not want to miss hearing this brilliant young woman articulate the challenges and rewards of being a peer specialist.

Are we friends or am I your client? (1:15)

Negotiating Boundaries (5:20)

The importance of strong supervision (7:39)

Dealing with the saviour complex (7:57)

Supporting former clients who are now paid employed as peer providers (10:12)

What Lived Experience Lab does (15:47)

Mardi Daley lives in Toronto and is  a certified peer specialist with the mental health commission of Canada. She is a consultant and founder of Lived Experienced Lab.


Faking It: Recognizing Imposter Syndrome

Released May 2021

Impostor syndrome is defined as having a fear of being exposed as a fraud no matter how experienced or truly competent we actually are in an area of expertise. This month, we explore this phenomenon in the early parts of our careers, faking it during the pandemic and the risks of covering up our inner fears by going into expert mode. 

 Voices from the Field  Dr Matthew Chow is a Vancouver-based child and adolescent psychiatrist and is the President of Doctors of BC. Dr Chow is a passionate advocate for supporting greater diversity and inclusion and addressing mental health for health care workers and the general population during the pandemic.

On being the president of a medical association during a global pandemic (1:04)

Dr. Chow on struggling with his own impostor syndrome (2:08)

Strategies to understand why we all experience impostor syndrome (5:18)

Dr Matthew Chow is a child and adolescent psychiatrist in the Vancouver area. He is also the President of Doctors of BC. Dr. Chow’s areas of interest include early treatment of childhood mental illness, the efficient distribution of healthcare resources, and the use of technology to enhance medical care.

Managing Brain Fog During Times of Chronic Stress

Released April 2021

As we continue living through a prolonged time of amplified stress & uncertainty, one frequently observed phenomenon has been described as “brain-fog”, a sense of increased fatigue, short term memory loss, and reduced productivity. This month we will explore how your brain functions with chronic stress, how numbing out can contribute to brain fog, & strategies to live in the present, so we can all better understand brain fog and what can be done to reduce it. 

 Voices from the Field  Greg Taylor shares his years of learnings as a mental health professional and relationship therapist about sharpening the saw, keeping vitality in personal relationships during a pandemic and staying connected to our community.

How can one “sharpen the saw” in the wear and tear of a continuous Pandemic? (2:23)

How does one keep vitality in their relationships with others during this time? (7:31)

How does one develop and/or maintain a community during these times? (14:35)

Greg explains the meaning of his personal mission statement and how he went from being an overfunctioner to a compassionate caregiver. (19:05)

How real self-care is not unlike flossing (check it out, it’s worth it!)  (23:12)

Greg Taylor, M.Ed., R.P. is the Counselling Coordinator and Mental Health Case Manager at Georgian College and has worked at Georgian for nearly 25 years. Greg’s past work history includes co-operative education, working with at-risk youth, Residence Life management, as well as holding a part-time private practice as a psychotherapist. Trained as an Imago Relationship Therapist, Greg loves assisting clients with all issues related to relationships. He also has a strong interest in addictions, mindfulness, men’s issues (he has belonged to men’s groups for nearly 30 years), and helping clients to align education and work with passion and purpose. As Case Manager, he assisted in making Georgian one of the first post-secondary institutions in Canada to deliver a Stepped Care model for mental health. His role as Case Manager has evolved into working more collaboratively with community organizations such as local hospitals, CMHA, the Centre for Innovation of Campus Mental Health (CICMH), and with various committees in the community. Greg loves to facilitate workshops for students, staff and the wider community in such topics as suicide intervention, compassion fatigue, mental health, leadership and conflict resolution.     

Long Haulers, One Year into the Pandemic: What is Working for Your Psychological Well-Being?

Released March 2021

As we mark the one year anniversary of the start of the pandemic in North America, we wanted to explore what has been working to help maintain psychological well-being during a team of upheaval and significant stress for almost all of us.

 Voices from the Field  In this interview with Mary Ann Baynton, Registered Social Worker and a specialist in workplace relations and psychological health and safety. We explore: What is a psychologically safe workplace?, Why authenticity matters, & Why we can’t keep working people to exhaustion.

Psychologically safe workplaces vs those with chronic stress and conflict (1:42)

Prevention is better for business than postvention (2:24)

Toxic positivity (4:02)

What have organizations done to manage the pandemic (5:50)

Uncertainty (7:22)

What are some agencies that are doing better? (12:25)

How the pandemic finally brought some awareness about mental health in the workplace (15:11)

Why we can’t keep working our people to exhaustion (17:21)

Embracing winter (27:30)

What should we call this? Instead of post pandemic? The great reset (29:27)

It Takes a (Physically Distant) Village: Creating your Professional Community of Support

Released February 2021

We are recording this in early February, and I think that we can all agree that it’s been a long eleven months. Many of us have experienced periods of prolonged stress and intense workloads since the start of the pandemic.

Whether you live in parts of Canada where you are currently in almost complete lockdown, or somewhere where things have re-opened, the way that we connect with friends, family and colleagues has changed dramatically. Some of us are continuing to work remotely alone at our kitchen tables while others are in the front lines where concern about infection spread and work volume does not allow us to have the informal catchups and debriefs with colleagues that we used to enjoy.

 Voices from the Field  Lt Col (ret) Stéphane Grenier and Françoise Mathieu discuss the impact of the pandemic on staff mental health, what good leaders should do now to plan for the post-pandemic world and simple ways to reduce stigma and reach out to colleagues.

Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Stéphane Grenier is a former Canadian military officer known for his work on psychological war trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder and later as a leader in workplace mental health. He was appointed to the Order of Canada and awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Guelph and Humber College for his contributions to the field of workplace mental health.

Stéphane’s riveting keynotes are not only thought-provoking, but also lead to tangible action and sustainable change for those leaders who are prepared to rethink how they support their people. His autobiography After the War: Surviving PTSD and Changing Mental Health Culture, tells his story from the day he landed in the midst of the Rwandan genocide, through his journey of changing mental health culture in the Canadian military, developing national Guidelines for Peer Support with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, all the way to creating Mental Health Innovations (MHI); a consultancy that leads innovative and sustainable change in organizations to enhance the mental health of their people.

Today, he and his business partners, along with countless associates, develop non-clinical mental health interventions as a complement to traditional clinical care for private and public sector organizations, as well as for provincial healthcare systems.

Understanding Boundaries and Setting Limits

Released January 2021

Many of us work in the community that we also live in. How do you set boundaries with your neighbours, friends and loved ones while still being kind? What if you don’t want to set boundaries –  what’s that about?

This month, we will discuss setting and maintaining boundaries from a multidisciplinary perspective; why it’s so hard to say “no” to others; and handling the discomfort of setting boundaries.

 Voices from the Field  Françoise Mathieu interviews Meaghan Welfare, a conflict management practitioner, and discusses her lessons learned during 20 years of working with government, not-for-profit and higher education workplaces.

Have you been contacted as a conflict practitioner by family and friends about conflict situations? (2:14)

What is the biggest struggle you see clients encounter with boundaries and limit setting? (4:02)

What some of the common fears and concerns about setting limits? (7:54)

What is your number one suggestion for people who struggle with saying no? (16:54)

Developing self-awareness about our physiological response to conflict situations (19:35)

Stigma and the Stiff Upper Lip

Released December 2020

Times of sustained crisis and stress can have lingering and complex reverberations – even as we settle into the new routines of the pandemic. To further complicate these pressures is a culture that maintains that helping professionals must stoically “carry on” or be perpetual heroes.

Recent research from the University of British Columbia indicates that while the public might be banging pots for some of us at 7pm, they might not want to be hanging out with us! The topics of this month’s discussion are often not openly discussed, leading to a lot of needless suffering, resentment and isolation.

This month, we will offer tools for recognizing and addressing stigma and tips to incorporate self-compassion into your day

 Voices from the Field  Françoise Mathieu interviews Dr. Mike Condra, a clinical psychologist and expert on topics such as mental health awareness, stigma-reduction and verbal de-escalation.