Canadian Medical Association

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated physicians’ stress and feelings of isolation. Health and wellness issues will continue into the post-pandemic era. One way to help support colleagues and build resilience is to “buddy up” — a form of peer support where two or more people connect and support each other’s health, welfare and safety.  

Here’s how buddy check-ins work: 

  • Choose someone you know well and with whom you can be open about what you’re going through. 
  • Identify a way to connect, either in person, by phone or by text. This type of connection can be mutually beneficial — it can also serve as a reminder to practise self-awareness (a self-check-in) and to take care of yourself. 
  • Arrange to connect on a regular basis and try to stick to the schedule. Determine what works best for you and your buddy. 

According to the Ontario Medical Association, research shows that the quality of social connections can help mitigate the harm of adversity and foster long-term well-being. During difficult times, well-being and resilience are dependent on mutually caring relationships — this is where having a “buddy” can be beneficial. As you check in with one another, try to assess where each of you are on the Wellness and Stress Continuum.  

What is my colour right now?

Mental Health Continuum Model
Signs and Indicators


  • Normal mood fluctuations
  • Calm, takes things in stride
  • Sense of humour
  • Good concentration, performing well
  • Normal sleep patterns
  • Normal eating patterns, stable weight
  • Physically well, active
  • Socially active
  • No or limited alcohol consumption/substance use/addictive behaviours


  • Nervousness, irritability
  • Sadness, overwhelmed
  • Displaced sarcasm
  • Distracted, loss of focus, intrusive thoughts
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in eating patterns, some weight gain or loss
  • Low energy, procrastination
  • Decreased social activity
  • Some to regular alcohol consumption/substance use/addictive behaviours (controlled)


  • Anxiety, anger, sadness, hopelessness
  • Negative attitude
  • Recurrent intrusive thoughts/images/nightmares
  • Difficulty concentrating, decreased performance
  • Restless, disturbed sleep, increased fatigue
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Increased aches and pain
  • Avoidance, tardiness
  • Frequent alcohol consumption/substance use/addictive behaviours (hard to control)


  • Excessive anxiety, panic attacks, angry outbursts, aggression
  • Depressed mood and/or suicidal thoughts
  • Noncompliant
  • Cannot concentrate or perform duties
  • Cannot fall asleep/stay asleep, constant fatigue
  • Extreme weight fluctuations
  • Physical illnesses
  • Withdrawal, absenteeism
  • Significant trouble/impact due to alcohol consumption/substance use/addiction

Note. Image adapted from Canadian Armed Forces Mental Health Continuum Model.

If you or a colleague feel as though you need formal support, we encourage you to visit the Physician Wellness Support page for a list of national crisis numbers and provincial physician health programs


COVID-19 wellness resources Peer support Relationships

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