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Fourth-year USask medical student Adam Neufeld published an article with 12 tips to help promote mental health and wellness for current and future health professionals.

12 Tips for Promoting Mental Health and Well-Being During COVID-19

Reading all the articles and studies getting published on COVID-19 inspired me to create something that would help others do just that. A practical framework for supporting our own and others’ psychological needs for motivation and wellness.

My name is Adam Neufeld and I am a graduating USask medical student and incoming Family Medicine resident at the University of Calgary. 

At the moment, I think the pandemic has thrown us all off and made us all feel a bit helpless and detached. Missing each other, being unable to help care for patients, losing a graduation (for the 2020 class). I think everyone is grieving some kind of loss and looking for ways to stay positive right now. 

Reading all the articles and studies getting published on COVID-19 inspired me to create something that would help others do just that. A practical framework for supporting our own and others’ psychological needs for motivation and wellness.

Looking for additional perspective and a collaborator, I brought my idea to my research supervisor, Dr. Greg Malin, an assistant professor in the Department of Academic Family Medicine, as well as a medical educator and the academic director for the Undergraduate Medical Education program.

I previously had the opportunity to work with Dr. Malin when I helped found and publish research on the College of Medicine’s near-peer mentoring program—PULSE (Peers United in Leadership & Skills Enhancement), as well as through several Dean’s summer research projects we conducted together. These projects were in the area of Self-Determination Theory, with a focus on the learning environment in medical school and its impact on student well-being.

Together we recently published, “Twelve tips to combat ill-being during the Covid-19 pandemic: A guide for health professionals & educators” in the AMEE Journal MedEdPublish. Our article is a theory-based guide for health professionals and educators, on ways to combat stress and stay well, during the pandemic. It was written with our doctors, teachers, administrators, and students in mind, especially.

Our article outlines how people have natural tendencies towards growth, mastery and connectedness, and how, for these tendencies to function optimally, they require support for three basic psychological needs – autonomy, competence and relatedness.

Tip 10—Take care of your own basic needs
For many, the workplace provides an environment ripe for need satisfaction—offering challenges, opportunities for achievement, and camaraderie. When that is lacking (i.e. due to social distancing and working from home), it may be helpful for individuals to consider their own basic needs for motivation and well-being, and if they are struggling, make adjustments to rectify their new situation. Relatedly, people in the health professions believe very strongly in the value of helping others (many working relentlessly on the frontlines), often at the cost of their own health and basic needs. What is important to remember is that healthcare workers are terrified and vulnerable too, making it indispensable for them to prioritize self-care, to stick together, and to support each other’s basic needs (Teoh and Kinman, 2020; Orsini, Binnie and Wilson, 2016b). While it is normal that many are not feeling "okay," at this time, and it may not feel quite right to ask, "how are you?" or "are you okay?", the value of reminding ourselves and each other to engage in self-care cannot be overstated. While this can often be a conflict for health education workers, you cannot pour water into another’s glass if your own is empty.


I thought in a time of crisis, these basic needs may be more important now than ever and if I can’t be on the frontlines and contribute that way, I’ll try and find another way to pitch in. This article is my way of doing that.

To read more tips on promoting mental health as a current or future health professional, visit MedEdPublish.

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