Using animation to connect during COVID-19
By Dr. Dana Ross
When the pandemic was starting to pick up steam in mid-March, I volunteered to pull together some COVID-related online resources for the staff and patients of Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. There was a lot of change happening very quickly and, at that point, no one had a sense of what we were in store for. With all the stress, fear and worry weighing people down, I decided to contribute something that approached serious topics with a touch of lightness. Communicating through short, accessible animated videos was a natural choice.
I work in the Trauma Therapy Program at Women’s College Hospital alongside a brilliant multidisciplinary team and I’m used to working closely with my colleagues during the week. So, with the physical distancing guidelines in place, I felt the loss of those daily moments of relational connection. The decision to make each video with a colleague was a way to continue to collaborate and be creative together.
As I developed the videos, I was able to channel my own feelings of worry into something fun and creative. For example, we made a video on “Coping during COVID-19 for healthcare workers” that had the simultaneous effect of helping me cope. I also got to use one of the skills we teach in our program, which is to use visualizations to modulate emotions. The video on “The Importance of Self-Compassion” was an opportunity to let my imagination wander, as I visualized and brought animated images that I found calming and peaceful to life. We also created a video on parenting during COVID-19.
The feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly supportive. One of the most frequent comments we’ve received after sending out a video has been, “I really needed this today!”
Anything that increases connection between people, especially during these challenging times, is a pleasure to be a part of.
Dana Ross, MD, FRCPC, is a psychiatrist in the Trauma Therapy Program at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.
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