The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented and uniquely trying time for our community, particularly for providers on the front lines, but including all faculty and staff at the medical center.

In response, the Department of Psychiatry has partnered with ColumbiaDoctors and NewYork-Presbyterian in developing CopeColumbia, which provides information and resources for the CUIMC community, including counseling sessions, peer support groups, guided meditations, suggested reading, and other resources for managing stress, fear and anxiety.

For any questions about CopeColumbia, or if you have any unmet needs, please email

CopeColumbia Support Resources

Counseling services are available to all CUIMC faculty, residents, and staff. Sessions provide an opportunity for employees to talk about their experiences, ask questions, and obtain guidance and practical suggestions from our psychiatry faculty. 

Services are confidential, virtual, and free of charge.

What to Expect

We are here to support you during this time of crisis. Sessions focus on short-term support and resilience building. If a need to pursue more formal mental health attention is identified, we will assist you in accessing the right resources.

Services Offered

  • Individual Time with Psychiatry Faculty Peer
    Confidential and virtual one-on-one sessions with a peer from psychiatry focused on stress management and coping. These 20-minute sessions are meant to be practical and supportive, with an emphasis on enhancing resilience and providing guidance. To schedule a one-on-one session with a psychiatry faculty member, please call 646-774-6311.
  • Peer Support Groups
    Confidential and virtual department-specific peer support groups are facilitated by psychiatry faculty members. The 30-minute sessions focus on enhancing resilience, sharing experiences, strengthening social support, and coping in the face of the numerous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. These are not psychotherapy groups, and sessions will not be recorded. This is a confidential, peer-to-peer support process with two psychiatry faculty facilitating the process. To schedule a peer support group session, contact:
  • Peer Support Group for Leaders and Managers
    Confidential and virtual department-specific support groups are co-facilitated by psychiatry faculty and organizational psychologists from CUIMC HR. The 45-minute peer-to-peer sessions focus on enhancing resilience, strengthening social support, and reinforcing healthy coping during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants can share the impact of the current crisis on team morale and productivity, and receive practical guidance. To schedule a group session for leaders and managers, contact Aaron​.
  • Peer Support Group for ACN Members 
    Confidential and virtual support for staff, teams, and programs within the Ambulatory Care Network (ACN) and the Division of Community and Population Health. The 30-minute groups are co-led by staff within the Behavioral Health ACN services. Sessions are meant to enhance interdisciplinary team resilience and supportive communities by providing space to discuss challenges and strategies. To schedule a group session for ACN Members, contact:
  • Town Halls
    These are more structured sessions, where departments and services can dedicate a portion of their team meetings to a CopeColumbia presentation or question and answer session related to stress, mental health responses to Covid and other challenges. A psychiatry faculty member will assist in organizing and will be available during the Town Hall. To schedule a townhall, contact: or enter your request and contact information through this form.


If you have questions about CopeColumbia services or programming, contact or: 


Meditation, Relaxation, and Guided Practices

Meditation and Mindfulness

It's natural to seek out ways to escape or move away from emotional pain and distress, but a perspective of awareness can help confront strong emotions like anger, anxiety, and grief associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Mindfulness involves present moment awareness through attention, with acceptance and nonjudgment. By bringing intentional awareness to our bodies, minds, and automatic reactions through meditative practice, we prepare ourselves to respond thoughtfully and cope more effectively with uncertainty and distress.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the physical and mental health benefits of regular meditative practice for reducing stress and promoting resiliency, especially for those in healthcare professions. Meditation involves learning about ourselves and how to work with our thoughts and feelings, which can facilitate awareness and compassion for ourselves and others. If you are new to mindfulness or guided meditation practice, or wish to broaden your current practice, please consider these resources:

What is Mindfulness? How do I Meditate?

Meditation and mindfulness can help us reduce stress, cope with pain, and improve our focus as we approach the obstacles of our daily lives. For a helpful guide on how to begin meditating and practicing mindfulness, please see the guide on How to Meditate.

What are the Benefits of Meditation?

Some research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, and insomnia. For a closer look at the benefits of mediation, please see the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s In-Depth Guide to Mediation.

What are the Benefits of Relaxation?

Relaxation techniques may be helpful in managing a variety of health conditions, including anxiety associated with trauma. For a closer look at relaxation techniques and their benefits, please see the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s Relaxation Techniques for Health

Mindfulness and Relaxation with CUIMC and affiliated providers

In the recordings below, you'll be guided by psychiatrist and CUIMC affiliate Dr. Oren Messeri, as he leads a brief, deep-breath meditation for calming the nervous system and a rapid form of breath work to naturally energize. Psychologist Dr. Erin K. Engle, within CUIMC's Department of Psychiatry, incorporates mindfulness meditation and relaxation into therapy to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. She provides guided meditation practices here cultivating restorative breath and using guided imagery to promote relaxation and stress-relief.

Additional Guided Practices for Mindfulness and Relaxation

The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies offers guided practice for beginners. You may also try Mindfulness Meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn. For examples of how to practice self-compassion, please see the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion’s 10 Self-Compassion Practices for COVID-19.

Apps to Foster Well-Being and Sleep

Podcasts to Help Offset COVID-19 Stress

Physical Movement and Exercise Resources

  • Join Dr. Rashmi Bismark, MD, MPH as she leads introductory yoga and mindfulness lectures, along with short meditations and movement practices that are accessible and designed with the busy schedules of physicians and healthcare providers in mind.
  • Join Dr. Dori Abel, a PGY-2 Pediatric Resident at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and instructor at CorePower Yoga, teaching a Yoga Sculpt Class-A Fitness Class incorporating bodyweight resistance, cardio, and power yoga in a high energy, upbeat format.
  • Join Jeffrey Chand, acupuncturist and Qigong instructor for Invigorating Qigong.

Reducing Stress and Social Isolation and Promoting Resilience

Resilience is a set of psychological traits or abilities that reduces the impact of stress on well-being. These evidence-based skills can be taught and built with practice, and better prepare individuals to cope effectively with challenges.

CUIMC resources

Outside Resources

Trauma, Grief, and Loss Resources

When faced with trauma, grief, and loss, self-care becomes critically important. We encourage you to take advantage of the counseling resources above (CopeColumbia Support Resources), and to take advantage of the resources below for managing shock, stress, and trauma associated with COVID-19.


Trauma occurs when individuals are exposed to events that involve witnessing death, risk of harm to oneself or those who are cared for, or violence. People can experience trauma reactions when they directly witness these events, when they learn about such events occurring to a loved one, or if they are exposed to details indirectly. These traumatic events can overwhelm our normal ways of coping with stress – even the most resilient people who generally handle stress well will experience emotions or symptoms that may be unfamiliar to them in the face of traumatic events.  First responders and other medical staff who have been working with Covid-19 patients in New York City have experienced a level of stress well beyond what most have been trained to handle. Fortunately, even when traumatic events affect us deeply, there is excellent evidence that we can adapt, learn additional coping strategies, and foster resiliency in ourselves and each other. Here we share some resources that experts in trauma have found to be helpful in understanding and coping with traumatic stress.

Loss, Grief, and Complicated Grief

The loss of a close relationship is a profound experience. When we experience the loss of a loved one or a close friend or colleague, our lives are deeply impacted. Feelings of grief are a natural reaction to loss, and commonly include longing, sadness, confusion, anger, resentment, anxiety, or a sense of detachment. The process of mourning, or integrating acute grief feelings, often entails experiencing waves of painful emotions, interspersed with periods of connection, meaning, and hope. Although there is no right or wrong way to grieve, by revisiting painful emotions, and confronting practical life changes following loss, we ultimately find a sense of peace, and healing, with time.

Certain situations may disrupt the process of mourning, thereby making grieving “complicated.” Many who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 have been deprived of an opportunity to say goodbye, due to a changeable medical course or the need to remain socially distant. Additionally, certain thoughts, feelings, and behaviors also stand to disrupt the natural process of grief. Intense feelings of anger, non-acceptance of a loss, or feelings of survivor guilt, can inhibit the grieving process or make it more difficult. For front line healthcare professionals, losing a colleague to COVID-19, while having to continue the professional demands of caring for others without ample opportunity to grieve, is an additional complicating factor. Additionally, the sheer volume of patient loss due to COVID-19, highlights trauma as a related factor that intensifies a sense of being “stuck” in the intense emotional pain associated with initial acute grief. 

Developed by Kathy Shear, MD, Complicated Grief Treatment (CGT) is the most extensively tested treatment for complicated grief and has the most evidence base as a grief treatment, with studies showing over 70% of those who received CGT much improved. For more information on CGT, please see these resources from Columbia's Center for Complicated Grief.

General Resources

Resources for Healthcare Providers

Racism, Stress, and Coping

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated significant health disparities for Black and Latinx communities in the U.S. Populations of color have contracted COVID-19 at higher rates than White individuals; with greater morbidity and mortality.1,2 We are learning that systemic racism is a major factor in these disparate outcomes: a disproportionate number of African-American and Latino individuals work in settings that are high risk for exposure, and they are more likely to lack medical insurance, the means to be tested for coronavirus, to be adequately treated for underlying conditions, or to receive early treatment for COVID-19.2 

The stress and trauma of racism in our society for communities of color is informed by a long history of violence and social injustice. The effects of systemic racism, especially on African-Americans in our country, permeates our society with consequences including negative outcomes for physical and mental well-being. Images, media portrayals and public discourse have triggered post-traumatic stress symptoms across in many of us, with the heaviest toll being that on racial minorities. Protests have sparked a discussion most feel is long overdue to address the effects of oppression on African-Americans after the senseless murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We are aware that these conversations, although emotionally charged, are necessary for change; take courage and bravery to achieve a more racially just society.

The mental health effects of racism are vast. The inability for communities of color to access mental health resources creates a barrier to the path of treatment and recovery. Lack of resources coupled with distrust of the medical field due to past transgressions towards African-Americans, in particular, and the stigma associated with mental health treatment in communities of color create a perfect storm for untreated intergenerational mental health illness. 

Growth and Change

Columbia University Irving Medical Center and other institutions around the country have acknowledged the historical systemic racism that exists and are committed to making change. As part of CopeColumbia’s commitment to promoting the health and well-being of our entire community, we encourage peer-supported open dialogue around mental health challenges that include racial disparities. Our efforts aim to enhance resilience and coping amongst peers while promoting healing, growth, and avenues for change. 

Informative Media


Mental Health Treatment

Columbia Psychiatry is world renowned for mental health treatment and has many resources available to support faculty, staff, and resident mental well-being. If you or anyone you know is experiencing any level of distress, below is a list of resources at Columbia, as well as several national hotlines.

How to Access

For faculty and staff

ColumbiaDoctors faculty practice includes traditional clinic-based care and intensive outpatient treatment programs. See patient care or call 212-305-6001.

For residents

Contact Dr. Laurel Mayer at for resources.

For Immediate Care

NY Presbyterian Hospital Emergency Department

Broadway between 167th Street and 168th Street


National Suicide Hotlines

Resources for Supporting Children and Family

Many of us are experiencing new parenting challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including talking with children about COVID-19, maintaining daily structure, overseeing homeschooling, and keeping our children healthy and safe. As healthcare providers, it can be particularly difficult to balance these parenting tasks with increasing work demands and pressures. The resources below are provided to support parents during this difficult time.

General Parenting Tips

Talking with Your Child About Coronavirus


Additional External Resources

Recursos en Español

La pandemia de COVID-19 representa un momento sin precedentes y únicamente difícil para nuestra comunidad, particularmente para proveedores de primera línea.

En respuesta, el Departamento de Psiquiatría ha colaborado con ColumbiaDoctors y NewYork-Presbyterian para crear CopeColumbia, donde encontrará información y recursos para la comunidad de CUIMC, incluyendo sesiones de consejería, grupos de apoyo entre pares, meditaciones guiadas, lectura sugerida, y otros recursos para manejar el estrés, el miedo, y la ansiedad.

Si tiene cualquier pregunta sobre CopeColumbia, o si tiene cualquier necesidad insatisfecha (inluyendo la necesidad de insumos, favor de enviar un correo electrónico a

Abajo se encuentran varios recursos, organizados por categoría.

Recursos de Consejería de CopeColumbia

Estos servicios se ofrecen al personal de CUIMC en todos los departamentos y ofrecen a los empleados la oportunidad de hablar sobre sus experiencias, hacer preguntas, y obtener consejos y sugerencias prácticas de nuestro cuerpo docente de psiquiatría. Los servicios son confidenciales y gratis.

Servicios Ofrecidos

  • Tiempo individual con el cuerpo docente de psiquiatría: sesiones de 20 minutos se enfocan en manejar el estrés y maneras de sobrellevar la situación actual.
  • Grupos de apoyo entre pares: grupos de apoyo serán específicos al departamento que serán dirigidos por dos miembros de nuestro cuerpo docente de psiquiatría. Cada grupo reunirá por 30 minutos y se enfoca en crear resiliencia, compartir experiencias, aumentar el apoyo social, y maneras de sobrellevar la situación actual y los desafíos de la pandemia COVID-19. Es una sesión confidencial con apoyo entre pares.

Como Acceder Servicios de Consejería

Para sesiones individuales, tendremos varias horas a diario cuando el personal de todos los departamentos puede llamar y estará conectado inmediatamente con un miembro del cuerpo docente de psiquiatría. El número que se debe llamar es 646-774-6311.

  • lunes–jueves: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • viernes: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • sábado & domingo: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Cualquier departamento, división, o servicio puede pedir sesiones grupales por correo electrónico.

Todo el personal y el cuerpo docente de CUIMS es elegible para CopeColumbia. Estamos aquí para apoyarle durante este momento de crisis. Estas sesiones se enfocan en el apoyo a corto trecho. Si se identifica la necesidad de atención de salud mental más formal, le ayudaremos a acceder los recursos apropiados.

Meditación, Relajación, y Prácticas Guiadas

La meditación y concientización pueden ayudarnos a reducir el estrés, sobrellevar el dolor, y mejorar la concentración mientras enfrentamos los obstáculos de nuestras vidas diarias. La meditación puede reducir la presión sanguínea, síntomas del síndrome del colón irritable, la ansiedad, la depresión, y el insomnio.

La aplicación Headspace ofrece un año gratis de Headspace Plus para trabajadores de salud con un número NPI. También ofrece sesiones de meditación gratis en español para apoyar a la gente durante la pandemia.

Las técnicas de relajación pueden ayudarle a manejar una variedad de condiciones de salud, incluyendo la ansiedad asociada con el trauma. Abajo se encuentra un video de una sesión de relajación muscular progresiva: Relajación Muscular Progresiva de Jacobson.

Recursos sobre el Trauma, el Luto, y la Pérdida

Cuando nos enfrenta el trauma, el luto, o la pérdida, el auto-cuidado se vuelve crítico. Les sugerimos que aproveche de los recursos de consejería arriba (vea Recursos de Consejería de CopeColumbia) y que aproveche los recursos abajo para manejar el choque, el estrés, y el trauma relacionado con COVID-19.


Recursos para Apoyar a Niños y Familias

Muchos de nosotros estamos pasando por nuevos desafíos al ser padres durante la pandemia de COVID-19, incluyendo hablar con los niños sobre COVID-19, mantener una estructura diaria, supervisar la escuela virtual en casa, y proteger a los hijos por mantenerlos saludables y seguros. Como proveedores de atención de salud, puede ser particularmente difícil mantener el equilibrio entre estas tareas de ser padres y las demandas y presiones mayores del trabajo. Los recursos abajo son para apoyar a los padres durante este momento difícil.

Sugerencias Generales para Padres

Hablar con Su Hijo sobre el Coronavirus

Recursos para la Reducción del Estrés y Desarrollar Resiliencia

La resiliencia es un grupo de rasgos o capacidades psicológicas que reducen el impacto del estrés en el bienestar. Estas destrezas están comprobadas a funcionar y se pueden enseñar y aprender con práctica, y así preparar mejor a los individuos a sobrellevar efectivamente los desafíos.


Recursos Adicionales de los Centros de Control de Enfermedades (CDC)