Mentoring During COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, mentoring is needed more than ever. During the best of times the art of mentoring can be challenging. Whether it’s helping a junior researcher collect data or apply for a first grant, or advising a post-doctoral fellow on next steps, mentoring requires a wide and varied skill set. Mentors help mentees to align expectations, develop obtainable goals, sort out work-life integration issues and more. Mentoring has the potential to diminish stress and reduce burnout. Now we are doing all of this, and more, as we face this global pandemic. It is important that we take time to think in different ways to support ourselves and our mentees. We recommend the following:

  • Check in with your mentees more frequently to help them prioritize their goals
  • Be flexible with expectations, particularly if they have additional childcare responsibilities
  • Check in to see how mentees with additional childcare responsibilities are managing and whether they are experiencing anxiety about the approaching school year
  • Ask them what support they need to help address challenges during the pandemic
  • Help them problem-solve and be creative regarding collecting data and making the laboratory a safe place
  • Explore what other tasks they could be doing if data collection isn’t possible right now
  • Assist them with networking, as networking opportunities have declined with the cancellation of face-to-face conferences

Check out these resources below for guidance on mentoring and resources for mentees to help navigate these difficult times.


Mentoring during the COVID-19 pandemic: Colleagues facing closed labs and enforced social distancing need a different type of support. Mentors must change their approach.
Author: Ruth Gotian, Nature, April 3, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has left many of us feeling frightened, worried and overwhelmed. This is affecting people in different ways, but concerns relating to a lack of focus or productivity are not uncommon. Mentors should always provide a support system for trainees and encourage them to prioritize their health above their productivity: especially in testing times such as these. We must reimagine how we mentor in a time of closed laboratories, depleted and stressed health-care colleagues and social distancing.

Advice for Faculty Members in a Turbulent Time
Author: Mindi Thompson, Inside Higher Ed, March 19, 2020
The author practical advice to help you focus on your physical and mental health and wellness. She provides wonderful tips for anyone in an educational setting and for general wellness – share with your mentees.

What to Do When Your Plans Get Thrown Out the Window
Author: Sarah Dobson, Edge For Scholars, April 1, 2020
This is a brief blog post to help junior researchers to think about how to pivot during COVID-19 – share and discuss with your mentees.

Just Breathe: Mindfulness Apps in a Pressured Time
Author: Scott Gubala, Edge For Scholars, April 4, 2020
This short blog post reviews mindfulness apps for academic health researchers.

Nurtured by nature: Psychological research is advancing our understanding of how time in nature can improve our mental health and sharpen our cognition
Author: , American Psychological Association, Monitor on Psychology, Vol. 51, No. 3, April 1, 2020
Read why spending more time in an uncrowded nature spot could be good for all of us.