Know Your Heroes: Jenna McLeod

Know Your Heroes showcases the many different people and roles that make up #TeamUHN. We celebrate these people, who strive to make the world a healthier place every day. 

Name: Jenna McLeod  
Title: Team Lead, Poul Hansen Centre for Mental Health  
Years working in health care: 12 years 
I was born and raised in: Aurora, Ontario 

I decided to get into healthcare because: The truth is I did not know I wanted to be in health care until I was already in it. It was when I completed my first internship in a hospital that I realized my passion for health care. At the time, I did not have a clue what I was getting into. But in walked this world of being able to support people and connect with others and have really meaningful interactions in a team environment. There is nothing else like it and I knew I was there to stay. 

My role here at UHN has two elements as the Team Lead. One hat is helping to guide my team through the day to day in the clinic. As a newer clinic at UHN, there is lots of opportunity for development in our program. I get to collaborate with leadership and clinical staff to bring to light our vision to provide holistic mental health care all in one place. The other hat I wear is a mental health clinician where I offer individual and group psychotherapy and help patients navigate the healthcare system and mental health resources. 

COVID-19 has affected me by:  Right before COVID hit, I was hospitalized and admitted to the ICU. I was away from work for a period of time and returned to work on the first day hospitals were being hit with the impacts of COVID. It was a really weird day for me personally and professionally. I was ready and excited to return to my regular life, and instead was confronted with the realities of a pandemic. My own sickness has really shaped my mindset throughout the pandemic and although this was one of my most challenging times, I have come out of it in a place of gratitude. I believe you can always find a silver lining in all the turbulence – sometimes you just have to look a little deeper. I think about this every day, especially when faced with the daily challenges of the pandemic and it has really helped me to cope, persevere and keep showing up for myself and others.  

The thing I love the most about my job is: Mental health is one of the things I am most passionate about, so being able to contribute and make a difference in others’ lives every day is so important to me. This could be being able to show up for people in some of their darkest moments, learning people’s stories and walking alongside them. It truly is a privilege to know the inner thoughts, strengths and struggles people are experiencing. I love being able to support my team members and contribute to an esteemed clinic. My team is very connected, supportive and open. We all ask for help when needed and share openly about our own challenges. It has made working through the pandemic a little bit easier.

The most incredible things I’ve seen at work is are truly the simple things. I love seeing patients connect during our group therapy programs. Being able to witness people who feel so isolated in how they feel realize that many people feel similar emotions. Hearing patients share their stories, often for the first time, is profound. As human beings we connect with others through our suffering and it also opens a door to support each other. One thing about the pandemic is there is this universal suffering happening and although that is hard, it has also been an area where people connect. I get to be part of this journey with patients and colleagues. 

I’m inspired by the resilience of human beings. This is displayed in many ways – I believe we are all put in tough situations time and time again, and it’s remarkable to see the creative ways people work through the challenges and cope.  

One of my personal heroes is my grandpa because he always showed up for everyone. He was fearless in everything he did – or so it appeared to me.   

I’m sometimes worried about burnout. It’s really common in health care, and my team is super committed to their work and the patients we support. I am always encouraging and supporting them to engage in self-care. It is so important that we care for ourselves in order to care for others. Just like on an airplane when you must put your mask on before the mask of a child, the same principle applies here with our own health. 

I’ve found joy recently from waking up each morning to have a coffee before work while connecting with a friend or enjoying the quiet time.  

Myfavouritebook is:I don’t know that I can pick one book. I really enjoy variety, and any books or podcasts related to fitness, sport psychology or the mind.  

My ideal day off is spent at the gym. 

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