Notable Heroes in Health Care: Heidi Christianson

Associate professor of psychiatry, health psychologist, Medical College of Wisconsin

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on doctors and nurses throughout the state are focused on the wellbeing of our physical health, but mental health providers are focused on addressing the psychological impact of the pandemic.

Heidi Christianson, psychologist and associate professor of psychiatry at the Medical College of Wisconsin knew the health challenges associated with a global pandemic would encompass far more than just the physical, and she wasted no time in preparing an effective system for patients, frontline workers and students seeking psychological services.

In one week, Christianson quickly pivoted the practice to a virtual system for patients seeking psychological services – allowing everyone to safely receive care without disruption.

Seeing the increased anxiety and fatigue among her colleagues she also expanded her practice services to medical trainees and frontline employees across the Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin system.

“Her compassion and dedication extend beyond her patients,” said Jon Lehrmann, chair and professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“Dr. Christianson understands it takes a healthy physician to best take care of others, and with this ethos, she helps her colleagues and their patients, too.”

Her work and persistence has resulted in access to mental health care for patients, frontline workers and Medical College of Wisconsin students. The sustainable platform she helped develop will continue providing mental health care access well after the pandemic.

“This year has tested our communities, health care systems and our optimism,” said Lehrmann. “But it has also revealed the tenacity and commitment of professionals like Dr. Christianson. Her impact on health care will not fade with the pandemic.”

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