Support for Breast Cancer Patients

Psychosocial services at the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital offer support for the psychological and emotional challenges of a breast-cancer diagnosis. They are available to all women (and some men) being treated for breast cancer at the Breast Centre.

Psychosocial services are provided by a psychiatrist and a social worker. In addition to formal psychological treatment, patients in the Breast Centre have access to self-guided resources, which in many cases are sufficient to help patients and their families through difficulties.

Professional Psychosocial Support

Typically, people come to the psychosocial services because of worries, fears or sadness that have occurred as a consequence of their breast cancer diagnosis. Previous difficulties with mood or relationship issues may also be worsened by a serious physical illness and may interfere with taking full advantage of treatment options.

A psychiatrist is a doctor trained in the emotional and psychological consequences of illness for the individual, couple and family. A psychiatrist may explore the option for prescribed medications to help manage the psychological and emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis, should you be interested.

Social workers are trained in offering supportive counselling to process your experience with cancer. They may also assist with accessing financial programs, additional home supports and addressing other practical concerns that can arise with a cancer diagnosis. A social worker is available throughout the diagnosis, treatment and recovery process. 

During the psychosocial assessment, the psychiatrist or social worker will help you identify the sources of your distress and will help you explore coping strategies to manage these difficulties. The goal of psychosocial treatment is to help you maximize your access to care and to help you process the psychosocial and emotional impact a cancer diagnosis may have on your life.

The plan may involve multiple approaches including psychotherapy, relevant medications and/or referrals to group or family support in the community. The professionals may engage in therapy with you or your family members directly or, if appropriate, guide you to other resources in the hospital or in the community that are best suited to meet your particular issues. 

Don’t struggle alone. If you are having a hard time with your breast cancer diagnosis, please ask your nurse or physician to refer you to either of the psychosocial staff members for an individual assessment.

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