Enabling Mental Health Spaces for Cancer Patients

Krystal Rioux, Dr. Michael Brown, Helaine Guther-Jamesand Dr. Jessica Waserman from the Mental Health Team

Krystal Rioux, Dr. Michael Brown, Helaine Guther-Jamesand Dr. Jessica Waserman from the Mental Health Team pose for a photo

A cancer diagnosis can significantly impact a patient’s mental well-being.

Proceeds from the inaugural Illuminight fundraiser supported the redevelopment of therapeutic spaces at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, including 12 counselling rooms and one group-therapy room, to enable the creation of a mental health program for cancer patients and their families.

Addressing emotional concerns

“We care for the whole person and not just their disease. Our team works with patients and families in one-on-one sessions to diagnose and alleviate any mental health concerns associated with cancer, including pain, anxiety, body image and fatigue,” explains psychologist Dr. Karen Zhang.

“We’re sincerely thankful to donors for enabling spaces where our patients and families can speak openly about sensitive topics.” – Dr. Waserman

The recent redevelopment helped in the recruitment of a psychologist, two psychiatrists and a mental health nurse to address the psychological well-being of patients and families. Social workers and dietitians are also part of the inter-professional team.

“We’re involved with the patient throughout all phases of their treatment, from initial diagnosis to remission or end-of-life care,” says psychiatrist Dr. Jessica Waserman.

Essential spaces for care

In addition to patient and family care, the therapeutic spaces also support the clinical, academic and research activities of the team.

“We’re sincerely thankful to donors for enabling spaces where our patients and families can speak openly about sensitive topics,” says Dr. Waserman. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see the positive impact we’re already having on our patients.”