Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program
Join Our Community!
The Cancer and Mental Health Collaborative is a community network designed to engage patients, caregivers, clinicians, advocates, policy makers, and other stakeholder partners with a shared commitment to promoting equity in cancer care and advancing patient-centered research for people affected by mental illness. Join us to exchange ideas, hear about our research updates and events, and more.
The Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program is dedicated to promoting equity in cancer care for patients affected by mental illness and their caregivers. Your gift supports clinical innovation, research, education and advocacy, with the goal of preventing premature cancer mortality and improving quality of life for individuals affected by mental illness. Make a gift.
Explore the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program
Addressing an Unmet Need
Individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder die nearly 30 years earlier than the general population, and cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death among this group. People with serious mental illness are more than twice as likely to die from cancer, less likely to receive timely, high quality cancer care, and more likely to be excluded from clinical trials. Access to early, integrated psychiatric care may improve cancer treatment for patients with mental illness.
Directed by Kelly E. Irwin, MD, MPH, the mission of the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program is to promote equity in cancer care for patients affected by mental illness, and to support their families and caregivers. Through clinical innovation, research, education, and advocacy, the Program aims to prevent premature cancer mortality and improve the quality of life of individuals affected by mental illness and cancer.
A New Care Model for Patients with Cancer and Severe Mental Illness
In 2016, the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program conducted the first-of-its-kind pilot study of a person-centered, team-based approach to cancer care for patients with schizophrenia and cancer. The approach was informed by the collaborative care model and personalized to address the specific challenge of cancer and mental illness:
- Person-centered care: Identifying goals and providing continuity across settings
- Screening: Identifying patients at cancer diagnosis, maintaining population-based registry
- Co-management: Partnering with the oncologist to adapt the cancer treatment plan
- Interdisciplinary team: Psychiatry, Oncology, Social Work, Community-Based Clinicians
- Collaboration across systems: Bridging oncology and community mental health
A team-based approach to care, timely access to mental health services, and strong communication with patients and caregivers are essential to helping these men and women get the treatment that they need and deserve.
Stakeholder Needs Assessment
Unlearning Our Helplessness — Coexisting Serious Mental and Medical Illness
N Engl J Med. 2016 Oct 27;375(17):1690-1694.
A 63-Year-Old Woman with Bipolar Disorder, Cancer, and Worsening Depression
N Engl J Med. 2016 Sep 29;375(13):1270-81. doi: 10.1056/NEJMcpc1609309.
Meet the Team
Learn more about the people behind the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program.
- Department of Psychiatry
- Program Manager, Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program
- Nurse Practitioner, North Suffolk Mental Health
- Program Director; MIMI (Mentally Ill and Medically Ill)
- Senior Program Coordinator; Residential Services Coordinator
- Medical Student, Columbia University
Patient & Staff Stories
Bridging the Gap
Learn more about how Dr. Kelly Irwin is helping to shape the way that today’s healthcare system works with cancer patients who suffer from severe mental illness.
The Story Project: Stefanie London and Jonathan Reich
Stefanie and Jonathan have relied on the support of the Psychiatric Oncology department here at the Mass General Cancer Center to help get through Stefanie’s breast cancer diagnosis, and want to change the way that a cancer diagnosis is viewed in the mental illness community.
The Story Project: Amy Corveleyn, MSW
Amy Corveleyn, MSW is a psychiatric oncology social worker with the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement program. Amy is an advocate for those affected by mental illness who also have a cancer diagnosis.
Annual Bridging the Divide Symposium
This annual event brings together oncologists, researchers, community mental health clinicians, patients, caregivers, advocates, and policy-makers dedicated to promoting equity in cancer care for patients with serious mental illness.
Learn about Mass General's Center for Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral Sciences.
Mass General's CORE program conducts innovative research and educational programs.
A vital state resource for individuals & families facing the challenges of mental illness.
Learn about cancer research, patient services, early detection, treatment and education.
Provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals.
- Promoting Equity in Cancer Care for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness announced as Trefler Cancer Care Equity Project
- Serious mental illness and cancer: Treatment outside the box
- Concord doctor fights against ‘unspoken inequity’ in cancer care
- Bridging the Divide: Mental Health and Cancer Care
- Program Combines Care for Cancer, Mental Illness