April 2020 LinkedIn Button 16Facebook IconTwitter Icon 

Responding to the COVID-19 crisis: Barron designs face mask with plastic shield for extra protection


Daniel Barron, MD, PhD, a fourth-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, with assistance from his 2½-year-old son, Everett, stepped in early during the COVID-19 public health crisis to make masks for healthcare workers who have faced shortages of personal protective equipment. With his wife, Kristin Budde, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and a graduate of the Yale Psychiatry Residency Program, Barron sought to design a mask that would meet guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a wire across the top that can be fitted to the nose and a plastic face shield. After making a prototype, Barron posted a YouTube video to teach others how to do the same. He makes clear in the video that while the masks - if made properly - conform to CDC guidelines, they are not intended to be an N95 rated or any form of rated mask. Read more

Faces on the Front Lines

Beginning this month, we're shining a light on members of the Yale Department of Psychiatry who are on the front line of Yale's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Know someone who should be featured?   Email to nominate them.

Aniyizhai Annamalai, MBBS, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Annamalai treats vulnerable patients with serious mental illness for longitudinal psychiatric, as well as primary care, at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC). She also runs the Adult Refugee Clinic at Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH).

Q: What steps you have taken to assist in the Department/Yale's response to the COVID-19 crisis?

As a physician dually trained in internal medicine and psychiatry, I chair the Infection Control Committee at CMHC. With the COVID-19 crisis, my role is to consult on all questions related to reducing risk of transmission among staff and patients at CMHC. There are multiple facets of this, from effective screening at entry sites to determining staff and patient exposures to optimizing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use. In my role, I adapt guidelines published by other health care facilities and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to inform our local response to COVID-19. I have personally tried to be available to any staff member that has concerns about COVID-19 and its effects on them or their patients.

Q: Describe the greatest challenge presented to you or your work over the last several weeks, and how you have addressed that challenge.

Even though my direct role is in mitigating COVID-19 transmission at CMHC, these recommendations inevitably overlap with issues of workforce depletion, staff anxiety, equipment shortages, structural deficits, and social determinants that affect disease transmission. It is a time of confusion, uncertainty and a rapidly changing landscape and I have to remind myself that any issue, minor though it may seem, needs to be addressed to achieve the larger goal of reducing COVID-19 transmission among our patients and in the community. I also have to remember that my patients have ongoing needs and I have to continue to address them, whether or not COVID related, since for them those needs are as important now as at any other time.  

Q: What advice or words of encouragement would you give to other faculty, trainees, and staff in the Department/Yale community during this time?

When faced with challenging COVID related issues, remember the larger context and that everyone is in this together and working at various levels to manage the COVID crisis. And amidst the chaos, remind ourselves of the things that we should be thankful for. I would strongly urge everyone to reflect on all the changes COVID-19 has caused in our personal and professional lives and draw lessons on what we could and should change when the crisis has passed. This is a time to rethink everything we have always assumed as "normal."

Todd Barnes, Clinical Outcomes Leader, Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital
Barnes works to identify, measure, and improve critical processes and outcomes in the inpatient setting. He seeks to listen to nurses and front line staff to better understand the challenges they face and potentially improve a process or workflow in support of the larger system.

Q: What steps you have taken to assist in the Department/Yale's response to the COVID-19 crisis?

On the hospital operations side, there's been a significant wave of change in response to COVID-19 that needed to be planned and implemented quickly and reliably. I was initially involved with helping to develop the psych hospital's COVID task force charter - meaning helping to organize the scope and action plan for what needed to happen. As the work evolved, I've been asked to produce a daily Psych & Behavioral Health COVID daily update to provide an official source of clinical and operational updates for staff. Trying to do my best to synthesize critical information and make it available to all staff.

Q: Describe the greatest challenge presented to you or your work over the last several weeks, and how you have addressed that challenge.

On a personal level, I feel a little guilty that I'm not in a role of providing direct care - that I can't be as practically helpful as I'd maybe like to be. I'd like to recognize all our environmental staff, protective services, frontline techs, nurses, and clinicians because they're shouldering a much greater challenge than I am. For my part, one important challenge is not just thinking in the day-to-day but thinking about changes that will improve our care down the road. It's hard to think far ahead, when there's so much to respond to on a day-to-day basis. I think we're doing our best to push changes that will improve our standard communication within the hospital, but there's still room for improvement here.

Q: What advice or words of encouragement would you give to other faculty, trainees, and staff in the Department/Yale community during this time?

A poem that I find comforting and also meets social distancing guidelines: "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
John Cahill, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Cahill is based at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), with an interest in building Learning Healthcare Systems for continuous innovation, knowledge translation and performance improvement in the community-based care of severe and persisting mental illness.

Q: What steps you have taken to assist in the Department/Yale's response to the COVID-19 crisis?

I've worked on health informatics implementation to support a shift to remote working at CMHC, as well as multi-stakeholder liaison and collaboration to develop a centralized resource and guidelines for CMHC physicians during this crisis. I've also helped senior leadership in coordinating staffing and workflow adjustments at CMHC, and assisted with the development of pilot initiatives to identify and serve particularly vulnerable groups within the CMHC community.

Q: Describe the greatest challenge presented to you or your work over the last several weeks, and how you have addressed that challenge.

It feels like we have launched more clinical workflow and informatics innovations in the last couple of weeks than we have in the last couple of years! It is easy during these times of rapid and dynamic change for some stakeholders' voices to be drowned out. I think it pays to pause, be still and remain silent periodically to listen for those voices. I am extremely grateful to my patients, colleagues, and supervisors for helping keep the channels of communication open - creating opportunities to deepen relationships, question assumptions and shift frames. 

Q: What advice or words of encouragement would you give to other faculty, trainees, and staff in the Department/Yale community during this time?

For me, the degree to which the current crisis is exposing some of the inherit vulnerabilities in our systems, is largely eclipsed by demonstrations of camaraderie, courage, resourcefulness and resilience in our communities of care - from our patients, support staff, trainees and clinical colleagues - through to our leadership. I hope and expect that the connections we forge, lessons we learn and innovations we implement in tackling this crisis will continue to bear fruit when we are through to the other side.

Louis DeAngelo, IT Support Specialist

DeAngelo works to deploy, support, and maintain computer workstations, as well as recommend various IT solutions to the clinical and research sections within the Department.

Q: What steps you have taken to assist in the Department/Yale's response to the COVID-19 crisis?

I worked with Department leadership to review the technical needs for end users while working remotely. Once we established what was required, we prepared workstations to work with end users' home environments that ensured continuity. I also worked with various groups to deliver provider solutions via telemedicine, utilizing Zoom for both tablets and computers.

Q: Describe the greatest challenge presented to you or your work over the last several weeks, and how you have addressed that challenge.

The greatest challenge is working on clients' computers while following the COVID-19 guidelines, to ensure both myself and clients are safe. I addressed this challenged by wearing the proper PPE equipment, wiping down computers and packages before working on them, and keeping 6 feet or more between clients and myself at all times.

Q: What advice or words of encouragement would you give to other faculty, trainees, and staff in the Department/Yale community during this time?

During this time, it's important to stay connected through technology with family members, friends, and associates since technology offers the safest communication environment for all. Through this time, it made me realize how quickly life can change and to appreciate the small things in life because they can be taken away so easily.
Ebony Dix, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Dix works as the Unit Chief of the Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry Unit at YPH (Celentano-5 at SRC). She serves not only in a leadership and administrative capacity, but also as a clinician and educator.  

Q: What steps you have taken to assist in the Department/Yale's response to the COVID-19 crisis?

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, I have been working with my colleagues in the Department to develop and implement workflow changes on the unit, which ensure the safety of both the patients and unit staff. This includes the utilization of telehealth technology, the dissemination of daily updated guidelines related to infection prevention strategies and operationalizing protocols for assessing and isolating symptomatic patients.  

Q: Describe the greatest challenge presented to you or your work over the last several weeks, and how you have addressed that challenge.

The greatest challenge I have encountered in recent weeks has been adapting to a "new normal," which entails being physically distant yet emotionally present, in the care of patients and in providing support to my friends and colleagues across the country who are on the front-lines.

Q: What advice or words of encouragement would you give to other faculty, trainees, and staff in the Department/Yale community during this time?

My advice to others would be to be mindful of the cognitive and e motional toll these trying times will have on everyone, therefore proactive self-care will allow us to optimize our compassionate care of others.
Jihoon Kim, MD, First-Year Resident 

Kim has been caring for patients rotating between services in Psychiatry, Neurology, and Internal Medicine as a part of his training. He is currently taking care of patients on the inpatient Internal Medicine service.

Q: What steps you have taken to assist in the Department/Yale's response to the COVID-19 crisis?
As the COVID-19 crisis is rapidly becoming worse every day, I deferred my vacation so I could continue to work for the Department of Internal Medicine and help fight against COVID-19. I've also reached out to my alma mater, Seoul National University Hospital, so that they can share South Korea's experience with COVID-19, and what they have learned from their successful fight against the virus to help our hospital. This is a really challenging time for my colleagues and my patients, and I am doing whatever I can to be of help to them.

Q: Describe the greatest challenge presented to you or your work over the last several weeks, and how you have addressed that challenge.

The greatest challenge for me over the last several weeks has been the anxiety. I'm constantly worried about people who are more vulnerable to this virus. My friend who is a medical resident in NYC got hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 during his patient care. Some of my colleagues here are very vulnerable to this virus (immunosuppressed, cardiac complications, etc.), and some live with vulnerable family members. I am young, healthy, and I live alone, so volunteering to work more in the medical units so that I can spare my colleagues who are more vulnerable was one way that I could protect them. I also worry about people in the community who are more vulnerable - whether due to age, comorbidities, or social situation. My colleague's beloved uncle just passed away from the virus. Hearing news of people dying from this virus has been heartbreaking, and the only way I could cope with that distress was to do my best as a doctor to help treat patients, so that this disaster may end faster.

Q: What advice or words of encouragement would you give to other faculty, trainees, and staff in the Department/Yale community during this time?

This crisis will eventually be over, and we are doing our best to fight against the virus. Please hang in there and stay safe!
Jeffrey Mufson, MD, Fourth-Year Resident 

Mufson is the Chief Resident on the Psychiatric Consultation Service.

Q: What steps you have taken to assist in the Department/Yale's response to the COVID-19 crisis?

I became aware of staffing shortages on the Internal Medicine service and wanted to help out. I volunteered to work on the Step Down Unit team on NP10 and have been assisting with the medical management of both COVID and non-COVID patients.

Q: Describe the greatest challenge presented to you or your work over the last several weeks, and how you have addressed that challenge.

Figuring out the best way to distance from my family while I take on a role with an increased risk of exposure to COVID has been very challenging (my son gives great hugs, which I miss!). An incredibly supportive wife has been immensely helpful.

Q: What advice or words of encouragement would you give to other faculty, trainees, and staff in the Department/Yale community during this time?

Working across departments has given me a look into how immense the challenges are across the system. Everyone is under a strain and it is inspiring to see so many people in different jobs confronting this situation.
Sirena Simpson-Taylor, Nurse Manager, VA Connecticut Healthcare System

Simpson-Taylor is the nurse manager of the 16-bed inpatient mental health unit at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the unit and works in collaboration with psychiatrists, residents, and medical students, and other multidisciplinary professionals while managing a team of 16 registered nurses and 12 nursing assistants.

Q: What steps you have taken to assist in the Department/Yale's response to the COVID-19 crisis?

The steps I have taken to assist in the department's response to the COVID-19 crisis include working in collaboration with the MH COVID-19 team, a wonderful team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and medical doctors by ensuring the daily assessments of the frontline staff were completed ensuring a close to a symptom-free environment of care as possible. I have been able to keep the frontline staff abreast of the daily changing situation of COVID-19 by providing them with the most up-to-date information as it relates to the care of the employees and our patients by working closely with the Employee Health and Infection Prevention units.

The unknowns of the COVID-19 virus have increased fears and anxiety in almost everyone, so to help alleviate some of these fears and anxieties in the staff, I have enlisted the help and support of our Employee Assistance Program Coordinator, Christine Bhiday, APRN. Also, I provide any new updates about the unit to the leadership of the Psychiatric Department, Drs. Ismene Petrakis and Alec Buchannan. The assistant nurse manager, Carl (Tony) Macarthur, and I have been able to assist the organization by allocating staffing resources to the COVID-19 screening stations and providing support to the staff on our inpatient medical unit. As a member of the Code Grey committee, I have collaborated with Keiko Muto, nurse manager of the Psychiatric Emergency Room (PER) in facilitating changes to the procedures on how the organization would respond to code greys, or behavioral disturbances. I am currently working closely with Safety and Employee Health to ensure the staff on 8E, the inpatient mental unit can be properly fit-tested for a respirator type mask. Lastly, the staff on 8E has been great in educating the patients on COVID-19 by providing education on proper hand hygiene and the benefits of social distancing.

Q: Describe the greatest challenge presented to you or your work over the last several weeks, and how you have addressed that challenge.

The greatest challenge presented to me over the last several weeks has been dealing with the rapid development of symptoms related to COVID-19 and the almost daily organizational response protocols which directly aligned with recommendations from the CDC. I have managed to address this challenge by maintaining a calm and organized approach, so that staff can have the most up-to-date information and protocols to follow ensuring safety for the patients, themselves and their families.  

Q: What advice or words of encouragement would you give to other faculty, trainees, and staff in the Department/Yale community during this time?

My advice or words of encouragement to other faculty, trainees and staff in the Department would be to understand and appreciate that we came into this together and we will see it through together. Stay well.  
Rajita Sinha, PhD, Director, Yale Interdisciplinary Stress Center

Sinha is the Foundations Fund Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University and also Professor of Neurobiology and Child Study. She is Chief of the Psychology section in Psychiatry and Co-Director of Education at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, home of the NIH supported Yale Clinical Translational Science Award. She is the Founding Director of the Yale Stress Center, a university-wide center that focuses on understanding the stress mechanisms affecting health behaviors, mood and emotion regulation and chronic disease risk.

Q: What steps you have taken to assist in the Department/Yale's response to the COVID-19 crisis?

The Yale Stress Center has been providing information to various news outlets, answering questions and providing guidance on coping with the stress, fear, anxiety and panic during this COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
I participated in Yale University's multi-expert Town Hall on coronavirus on March 18 via Zoom. On March 25, Ms. Anne Dutton, LCSW, the Yale Stress Center's Director of Mindfulness Education, began offering free weekly Zoom sessions on Coping with the Anxiety of COVID-19 Through Mindfulness that have attracted participants nationally and beyond.

I am also consulting with YNNH's Dr. Kristine Olson in their response for inpatient healthcare providers and is part of Dr. Krystal's task force led by Dr. Samuel Ball on Psychiatry and Child Study Center's response to support Yale Medicine and the wider community during this extremely challenging time.
Jacob Tebes, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry

In addition to Professor of Psychiatry, Tebes also serves as Chief of Psychology at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), and Director of The Consultation Center and the Department's Division of Prevention and Community Research.

Q: What steps you have taken to assist in the Department/Yale's response to the COVID-19 crisis?

Everyone experiences stress, and everyone can be resilient. That belief is the foundation for the Stress and Resilience Town Halls, a new Departmental initiative that I lead to support individuals and families connected to Yale School of Medicine and the Yale New Haven Health System communities, as well as several affiliated institutions.

Town halls create a supportive virtual space where individuals can share their stresses and their strategies to promote resilience. Each town hall is co-led by a psychiatrist and a psychologist. A town hall begins with a brief presentation on a specific theme by one of the co-leaders, followed by a discussion in which participants offer each other mutual support, encouragement, and tips from their own experience. We know that a variety of people attend, including physicians, nurses, clerical and technical staff, maintenance workers, faculty, professional staff, administrators, and family members. Town halls cover a range of rotating themes that change as new stresses are identified in the groups. To date, almost 400 people have attended a town hall, some more than once.

Q: Describe the greatest challenge presented to you or your work over the last several weeks, and how you have addressed that challenge.

In mid-March, Dr. John Krystal, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, planted the seed for this initiative by asking how our Department could support a Yale community that will be under stress in responding to the pandemic. I volunteered to lead a Departmental initiative to offer Stress and Resilience Town Halls, but was concerned about scaling up quickly. I was only able to do so because of the generosity and dedication of so many.

There are more than a dozen faculty psychiatrists and psychologists who generously volunteer their time. There is Chris Gardner, who organizes communications and publicity for the town halls, and Susan Florio, who provides administrative and technical support. Finally, there is my outstanding team of postdoctoral and psychology fellows - Keisha April, Michael Awad, Brittany Miller-Roenigk, and Corianna Sichel - who annotate each town hall to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of participants and address emerging issues throughout the pandemic.

Q: What advice or words of encouragement would you give to other faculty, trainees, and staff in the Department/Yale community during this time?

I feel sadness for the lives lost and the many adversities felt because of the pandemic. But each day I am also motivated by three practices: gratitude, forgiveness, and resolve. I am deeply grateful for the collaboration, courage, and sacrifice by many at Yale, in our country, and across the world in response to this pandemic. Each day, I also remind myself to try to be more forgiving because no one is at their best right now, including me, and we are all doing our best in trying times. Finally, I am motivated by a deep resolve to meet any challenge that awaits us to overcome this pandemic and its aftermath.

Featured News


Krystal co-author of NEJM article that tracks symptom improvement in patients with schizophrenia

Patients with schizophrenia demonstrated improvement on a scale used to measure symptom severity after taking a drug being tested in a clinical trial, according to an article published online in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article, co-authored by John H. Krystal, MD, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Professor of Translational Research and Chair of the Yale Department of Psychiatry, notes that patients who took the once-daily drug SEP-363856 demonstrated statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in their symptoms as measured by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) compared to placebo after four weeks of treatment. Read more  

Calhoun, Gold evaluate the positive impact of celebrity self-disclosure of mental illness

Celebrity self-disclosure and advocacy of mental health can boost normalization and awareness, and even encourage people to seek help, according to a new paper written by a Yale resident and former Yale medical student. Amanda Calhoun, MD, MPH, left, is in the Albert J. Solnit Integrated Adult/Child Psychiatry program. Jessica Gold, MD, MS, right, is a Yale School of Medicine graduate. They co-authored the paper titled, "'I Feel Like I Know Them': the Positive Effect of Celebrity Self-Disclosure of Mental Illness," published in Academic Psychiatry. Read more  

Military 'making weight' practices related to binge eating, eating pathology later in life

The military practice of "making weight" is related to binge eating and eating pathology later in life, according to a new study published in Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity and led by Robin Masheb, PhD, Senior Research Scientist in Psychiatry. Military personnel are required to pass bi-annual physical fitness tests, including mandatory weigh-ins. Failure to "make weight" at weigh-ins carries significant consequences, including jeopardizing promotion and potential separation from service, Masheb said. Read more  

Yale Department of Psychiatry announces 2020 Residency Match Class

Eighteen new first-year residents will be welcomed into the Yale Psychiatry Residency Program this year. The new PGY-1 and Albert J. Solnit Integrated Adult/Child Psychiatry residents matched with the Department of Psychiatry on March 20. "We're delighted to have matched an outstanding group of applicants to our general adult and Solnit residency programs," said Robert M. Rohrbaugh, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Residency Program Director. "The group includes individuals interested in biological, psychological, and social justice approaches to our field, and includes several members with specific interests in the arts and humanities in medicine." Read more  

Hoffman named new Director of Mental Health & Counseling at Yale Health

Paul Hoffman, PhD, has been named Director of Mental Health & Counseling at Yale Health. He served for five months as Interim Director before being appointed to the position. He was previously Associate Chief for Clinical Affairs. "We have a strong continual commitment to being a training and educational site for the psychiatry department," he said. "We've always been an excellent training site and our commitment remains to that, but also to thinking of how to improve our training and to match the needs and interests of the residents and trainees who come through." Read more  

Bassir Nia receives New Investigator Award from American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology

Anahita Bassir Nia, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, was recently selected as a 2020 American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology (ASCP) Annual Meeting New Investigator Award (NIA) recipient. Bassir Nia's research interests are in translational research on addiction and mental health disorders. She is particularly interested in the biological effects of acute and chronic stress on developing substance use disorders, as well as the effects of substance use on stress response and psychiatric symptoms. Read more  

Five residents selected for American Psychiatric Association Fellowships

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has selected five Yale Department of Psychiatry residents to participate in 2020 fellowship programs. The new fellows are, from left, Eden Almasude, MD, MA; Tanner Bommersbach, MD, MPH; Amanda Calhoun, MD, MPH; Ayala Danzig, MD, MSW; and Eunice Yuen, MD, PhD. Almasude, Calhoun, and Yuen were selected for the APA Foundation's SAMHSA Funded Minority Fellowship Program. Bommersbach was chosen for the APA Foundation's Public Psychiatry Fellowship Program, and Danzig was selected for the APA Foundation Leadership Fellowship Program. Read more  

Disruption creates new norms at Connecticut Mental Health Center

Michael J. Sernyak, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and CEO of the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), has likened CMHC's response to the burgeoning global COVID-19 pandemic to putting out a fast-moving house fire while simultaneously thinking about rebuilding the house. CMHC is still providing critical clinical services for people in recovery from serious mental illness and/or substance use. In the last few weeks, CMHC has pivoted from its normal full staff routines to figuring out how to provide essential services with many staff members working from home. Read more  

Taylor Lab donates N95 masks, other PPE to Yale New Haven Hospital

Many in the Yale community have answered the call to contribute to the battle against COVID-19. Jane Taylor, PhD, Charles B. G. Murphy Professor of Psychiatry, of Psychology and of Neuroscience, is one of them. Taylor's laboratory, which focuses on the dysfunction of cortico-limbic-striatal circuits that may cause increased impulsivity and alterations in reward-related learning that have relevance to drug addiction and such health concerns as depression and schizophrenia, recently donated its supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Yale New Haven Hospital. Read more  

Xu offers Zoom-based town halls for people with connections to China

Inspired by the Yale Department of Psychiatry's Stress and Resilience Town Hall Program, Ke Xu, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, started her own Zoom-based town hall platform for people with connections to China. She named it "Building Resilience in the Chinese Community - A Path to Survive, Learn, and Grow." It meets on Saturday nights. The first call on April 4 drew 67 people from around the world, including China, Europe, California, New York and Yale. The topic was "Stress and Resilience, Coping as Ordinary People." Read more  

Managing anxiety and OCD during a pandemic

Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, has some words of wisdom for his patients that might be helpful to all of us: Let the anxiety come. It will pass. The director of the Yale OCD Research Clinic says that although the disruption of everyday routines is anxiety-provoking for everyone, it can be especially so for people who struggle with mental illness. "What seems to be the problem is the loss of structure," he said. "It's hard for all of us, but for those who are working with a tenuous balance to begin with, it's a very challenging time." Read more  

Coping with pandemic: Who's zoomin' who?

The COVID-19 pandemic has many parents trying to do their jobs from home, supervise their children's education, and provide 24-7 care. Creating reasonable expectations can keep parents from becoming overwhelmed in a high stress situation. Setting goals that are achievable - and carving out a bit of time for themselves - will make this extraordinary time more manageable. Connecticut Health I-Time discussed ways to find balance with Megan V. Smith, DrPh, MPH, Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Yale Child Study Center. Read more  

Managing life at home during the COVID-19 outbreak

As we adjust to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's natural to struggle with maintaining healthy habits. People may be having trouble sleeping, managing stress, coping with loneliness, and eating right. "Many of my patients are very anxious about what the implications are for their personal health and their safety," said Dwain C. Fehon, PsyD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Chief Psychologist of Yale New Haven Hospital's psychiatric services. "I think this is on everybody's mind right now. There are strategies that can help." Read more  

Five strategies to protect patients, staff in psychiatric inpatient units From COVID-19

Luming Li, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Medical Director for Quality Improvement at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital, outlined five strategies for responding to COVID-19 in inpatient psychiatric facilities in an article in Psychiatric News. Those strategies include managing COVID-19 precautions, restricting visitors and minimizing nonessential contacts, developing a contingency staff plan, planning for patients suspected of COVID-19, and modifying group therapy. "It is important to strategically plan and advocate for services and resources to support high-quality, safe psychiatric care delivery," she wrote. Read more  

The science of helping out

At a time when we are all experiencing an extraordinary level of stress, science offers a simple and effective way to bolster our own emotional health. To help yourself, start by helping others. Much of the scientific research on resilience - which is our ability to bounce back from adversity - has shown that having a sense of purpose, and giving support to others, has a significant impact on our well-being. "Small acts are important," said Steven Southwick, MD, Glenn H. Greenberg Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, in an interview with The New York Times. Read more  

Trump must enact the Defense Production Act before we run out of protective equipment

Katherine "Kiki" Kennedy, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, is co-author of an op-ed in The Hartford Courant that describes the dire state of personal protective equipment supplies at Connecticut hospitals and urges President Donald Trump to enact the federal Defense Production Act. "Our precious but quickly depleting supply of masks, gowns, gloves and face shields protects not only front-line medical providers from contracting COVID-19 (so that we can continue giving needed medical care), but they also protect our patients," the authors wrote. Read more  

Has telemedicine's day finally come?

Daniel Barron, MD, PhD, a fourth-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, writes in Scientific American about the increased use of telemedicine during the COVID-19 crisis and some possible limitations to its use. "No clinic is required to provide telemedicine services - even if doing so might decrease the risk of them or their patients spreading COVID-19," he wrote. "Hospital systems, group practices and small clinics are independent businesses that decide what services to offer based on many factors." Read more  

In isolation, worries and stress are magnified

The coronavirus quarantine means different things to different people: A fusion of work and home life. A leap into social media, or virtual meetings once held face-to-face. But for people who suffer from substance use disorder, gambling addiction, or problematic video gaming - otherwise known as Internet gaming disorder - the quarantine is fraught with danger. "Oftentimes stress is linked to addictive behaviors, and there can be little question that the social distancing around coronavirus ... has been a stressful interruption of routine for many." said Marc Potenza, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry. Read more  

Morgan speaks about lucid dreaming on McUniverse Podcast

Peter Morgan, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Chair of Psychiatry at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, recently spoke to Dan McHugh of the McUniverse podcast about lucid dreaming. Morgan has developed research that shows lucid dreamers have better functionality in certain parts of their brain than non-lucid dreamers. "Most likely there's different parts of the brain that are more relevant to someone's ability to have a lucid dream," he said. "So people who were better at developing lucid dreams showed better performance on tasks which may engage one part of the brain compared to a different part of the brain." Listen  

White's online self-care course now publicly available

A distance-learning course on self-care that has helped Yale School of Public Health students track improvements to their nutrition, physical activity, and mental health is now available for free to the public. The online course, designed by Marney White, PhD, Associate Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases) and Psychiatry, was recently released by the online learning platform Coursera. The curriculum is spread over eight weeks and includes videos, readings, and end-of-unit quizzes. Read more  

Yale-Community Partnership hatches vital HIV prevention research from seed

Tami Sullivan, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Family Violence Research and Programs at Yale, is among the latest affiliates of the Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS to successfully turn a pilot project into a full-scale HIV prevention research project. Sullivan was honored by the National Institute of Mental Health for her project "Identifying Modifiable Risk and Protective Processes at the Day-Level that Predict HIV Care Outcomes Among Women Exposed to Partner Violence." Her partner in the project was Jaimie Meyer, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine. Read more  

The other #MeToo: Male sexual abuse survivors

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And while our society is well aware of female victims, often male victims of sexual assault are forgotten or neglected due to shame, stigma, and the like, according to Joan Cook, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, who writes about male sexual assault victims in Psychiatric Times. "Indeed, some may find it surprising that at least 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before their 18th birthday," she writes. "This number rises to 1 in 4 men who experience unwanted sexual events across their lifetime." Read more  

Yarnell-Mac Grory completes Climate Change and Health Program

Stephanie Yarnell-Mac Grory, MD, PhD, from the Warren P. Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University and the Addiction Psychiatry Program in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, has completed the Yale School of Public Health Climate Change and Health Program. The rigorous six-month course prepares health professionals to address the adverse health impacts of climate change. Students learn the health impacts of climate change and devise adaptation strategies to increase their communities' resilience to the health consequences of climate change. Read more  

Department accepting submissions for Lustman Resident Research Award

The Yale Department of Psychiatry is accepting submissions from trainees for the annual Seymour Lustman, MD, PhD Resident Research Award. The Lustman Award is the highest award for resident research achievement given by the Yale Department of Psychiatry. The recipient of the award receives a cash prize and makes a Grand Rounds presentation to the Department of Psychiatry, which this year will be on Friday, May 29. Recipients are listed on a plaque that hangs outside the auditorium at the Connecticut Mental Health Center. Read more  

Yale scientists awarded $8.4M grant to develop treatments for women with problem drinking

Yale Department of Psychiatry scientists have been awarded a five-year, $8.4 million federal grant to establish a new research center at Yale that will develop treatments to help women with problem drinking. The new Yale-Specialized Center of Research Excellence (YALE-SCORE) will be funded by the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women's Health and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Sherry McKee, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry is the new center's principal investigator. Read more  

Raising Money For Those Most Vulnerable in the Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Eden Almasude, MD, MA, right, a second-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and Sarah Eppler-Epstein, left, a Yale Law School student, co-founded the New Haven Area Mutual Aid Fund in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is providing direct financial assistance and essential items like food, diapers, and toilet paper to New Haven area community members who are disproportionately affected by the crisis. To make a donation to the program please click here. To read more about this charity effort please click here. The department also encourages support of the Yale Community for New Haven Fund which the university launched after consulting with the United Way of Greater New Haven and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Yale is attempting to quickly raise $5 million to support the delivery of healthcare, assistance to local businesses, community education needs, and area not-for-profits focused on such pressing issues as the well-being of children and families, homelessness, and food insecurity. The university put $1 million into the fund and is matching every dollar given by faculty, students, and staff up to the $5 million goal. To make a donation to the Yale Community for New Haven Fund please click here

Yale receives delivery of N95 masks from Chinese NGOs


The New Haven-based Yale-China Association in April assisted in the logistics of sending donated masks from China and the United States to New Haven. The masks were received April 14 by Paul Taheri, MD, MBA second from left, CEO of Yale Medicine and Deputy Dean of Clinical Affairs for Yale School of Medicine. Pictured with Taheri are, from left, Gary Zhou, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology; David Youtz, President of the Yale-China Association; and Robert Rohrbaugh, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Dean for Global Health Education at Yale School of Medicine. Read more

Virtual Psychiatry Grand Rounds

Weekly Grand Rounds led by John H. Krystal, MD, Chair of the Yale Department of Psychiatry, have been offered virtually over Zoom since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in March. These sessions take place on Fridays beginning at 10:15 am and are open to all affiliates of the department.

Back to Top

Stress and Resilience Town Halls

The Yale Department of Psychiatry is offering virtual "Stress and Resilience Town Halls" over Zoom that are open to all faculty, residents, and staff at Yale School of Medicine, Connecticut Mental Health Center (both Yale and state employees), the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, and Yale New Haven Health. Virtual meetings take place daily and run for up to an hour. Individuals may attend as frequently as they like.

Among the topics that have been recently discussed are Poetry to Deal with Stress in the Age of COVID; Breathing and Relaxation as a Practice of Wellness to Increase Resilience; The Extended Family: Sharing Stories of Maintaining Contact with Distant Family, Even if They Live Next Door; Tips for Improving Sleep When Under Stress; and Managing Your Work and Your Child's Schooling During the Pandemic.

Mondays, 5:00 pm

Tuesdays, 12:00 pm

Wednesdays, 5:00 pm

Thursdays, 3:30 pm

Fridays, 4:00 pm

Back to Top

Yale Stress Center: Coping With COVID-19 Anxiety Through Mindfulness

The Yale Stress Center is offering a free weekly live Zoom class "Coping With COVID-19 Anxiety Through Mindfulness" on Wednesdays from 2 - 2:30 pm and continuing through the end of May. The Zoom meeting ID is 773-461-258

The Stress Center also has various printable resources on its website resources page.

Back to Top

Staff Connections


Employee Spotlight, a feature in Psychiatry@Yale, profiles one Yale Department of Psychiatry staff member every issue. Featured this month is Michael Gossett, a Desktop Support Specialist and member of the Yale Psychiatry ITS team.

Q: What is your role in Yale Psychiatry and what work do you perform?

A: "Within Psychiatry I have the vital role of keeping these wonderful electronics that seem to control our lives these days up and running. My official title is IT Support Specialist 2. In reference to IT needs here at Yale, the way it works is people normally contact our Help Desk for remote assistance. If ITS is unable to help remotely I receive a work order to arrive on site. Working in the field, I have the wonderful opportunity to meet fascinating people who in some respects are literally fixing the world's problems or curing diseases. Yale is a very interesting place to work and has given me the opportunity to really set down roots and be comfortable having a family in these uncertain times. Yale has given me stability even though sometimes it's overlooked when we stare at life with our 'grass is always greener' glasses on."

Q: How do you achieve work/life balance?

A: "I guess I could say lots of alcohol but I would be lying. I'm more of a social drinker anyway and never drink at home. In reality I find to maintain that balance you have to understand when to walk away. To elaborate I mean at the end of the day you have to be able to unplug and not dwell on work. There is something to be said when you put down the computer and phone to make time for yourself or spend it with family. Work is always going to be there and waiting for me first thing the next day. If I burn out I would be no good to anyone and the unnecessary stress could rear its head in unusual ways making me act in a method I could regret later."

Q: Before working at Yale, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?

A: "The most interesting job I had before Yale would have to be working for Mallinckrodt Inc. (a nuclear pharmaceutical) as a lab technician. There's something to be said when each time you get ready to step out of the lab for any reason you have to run a Geiger counter over your whole body. Not to mention it is a little concerning when you work with chemicals with a warning on the bottle that reads, "Do not breath, will cause cancer on a daily basis." Hence for health concerns I decided on a career change. Interesting tidbit: I found out later from a colleague that if I had stayed the company was going to send me to school to become a pharmacy tech. Where would I be today if that had occurred? Hindsight is 20/20."

Q: What is your favorite indoor or outdoor activity?

A: "My favorite outdoor activity would be spending time on my boat. For the longest time I would tell friends on hot days driving by the water, 'You know what we need? To get a boat.' I said it so much that they started to tease me about it. Well one summer I spent a few months looking at boats until I found the one I wanted. Then in a matter of a week I bought a new truck, boat trailer, boat, and the next day was at the DMV registering everything. I had all the stickers put on the boat and was in the water by that Saturday. Talk about a dream becoming reality."

Q: If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

A: "Good question. I would say learn to play an instrument. The one thing I regret my parents didn't push me toward was musical instruments. I find learning things today takes a lot more effort. Hence my philosophy with my own children is exposure. I don't worry if they don't like it as long as I gave them the opportunity to try it and find their own likes and dislikes. Now back to me, it's balancing free time with life so that I could pursue this. I've had an expensive keyboard and guitar at home for a while but I have yet to make the time necessary to build the skill set."

Need news? Follow us on Instagram

The Yale Department of Psychiatry is now on Instagram! We're excited to share the great news happening in the department on this new platform. Join us there at @YalePsych. And if you're not already, make sure to follow us on our other social channels - on Twitter @YalePsych and Facebook at Yale Department of Psychiatry.

Newsletter Footer
Have feedback? Want to submit content for the website and e-newsletter?
Contact Chris Gardner, Director of Communications,, 203.737.7165.

Giving Back

Department of Psychiatry Development & Alumni Fund



Open Faculty Searches


Clinical Research

Current Addictive Behavior Trials  /  Current Mental Health Trials


Connect with Yale's Psychiatry Department

E-updates  /  Twitter  /  Facebook  /  LinkedIn  /  Google+ 
Join Our Mailing List