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Through clinical innovation, research, education, and advocacy, the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program aims to prevent premature cancer mortality and improve the quality of life of individuals affected by mental illness and cancer.
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.
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:
Read more of Stefanie and Jonathan's story.
BRIDGE: Proactive Psychiatry Consultation and Case Management for Patients With Cancer
Learn more about this trial here on clinicaltrials.gov
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.
Director, Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program
Dr. Irwin is an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a faculty psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center and MGH Schizophrenia Program where she founded the Cancer Prevention Program. Dr. Irwin graduated from Harvard University in 2001, worked with Doctors for Global Health in El Salvador, and then returned to Harvard Medical School, receiving her MD in 2008, and completing her residency in psychiatry at MGH and McLean in 2012. She received the Dupont-Warren Fellowship from Harvard Medical School in 2013 and the Program in Cancer Outcomes Research Training (PCORT) fellowship in 2015.
Program Manager, Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program Clinical Social Worker, North Shore Medical Center, Partners HealthCare, and Private Practice
Amy Corveleyn is a licensed clinical social worker who sees patients at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and her private practice. She has worked with cancer survivors and patients with serious mental illness and their families for 13 years. She works as a Community Liaison at the MGH Cancer Center, helping patients connect with the medical and mental health care they need outside the hospital. Amy Corveleyn is also the Community Liaison for the Cancer and Mental Health Collaborative, a community network dedicated to engage diverse stakeholders to conduct patient-centered research at the intersection of cancer and mental health care. Amy Corveleyn is the social work case manager for the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program and Dr. Kelly Irwin’s Bridge research study at MGH, which both aim to improve cancer outcomes for patients with cancer and serious mental illness by promoting collaboration across disciplines.
Staff Radiologist, Mass General Hospital; Instructor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School; Director of Radiology Community Health Improvement.
Efrén J. Flores, MD is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico Medical School. He trained in radiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate, where he currently serves as board-certified staff radiologist in Thoracic and Emergency radiology since 2011. Dr. Flores interest in patient outreach and advocacy led him to focus his research on identifying social determinants of health impacting access to radiology among underrepresented minorities, and develop and implement low-cost programs to bridge he healthcare disparities gap. Dr. Flores research has led him to scientific presentations at national meetings and has also published in this subject. In recognition of Dr. Flores work in this area, he was appointed Director for Community Health Improvement in the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Radiology in 2016. Dr. Flores also serves in the Radiology Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Nurse Practitioner, North Suffolk Mental Health
Ben Macri is a graduate of Vassar College and MGH’s Institute of Health Professions. Through positions with various local agencies including CASCAP and the South End Community Health Center, and as a volunteer for Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, Ben developed a passion for working with patients with serious and persistent mental illness. Since becoming a nurse practitioner Ben has continued his work with this community at the North Suffolk Mental Health as a clinician at the Freedom Trail Clinic, the East Boston Counseling Center and with North Suffolk’s Medical Services Team.
Program Director; MIMI (Mentally Ill and Medically Ill) Residential Program, North Suffolk Mental Health Association
Beriline Akwe’s desire to advocate for the disadvantaged in society spurred her to pursue a career in healthcare. Upon graduating from nursing school in 2004, Beriline was frustrated by bedside nursing because there was great need that could not be satisfied through curative medical approaches. Beriline began to wonder how she could be instrumental in influencing positive change in health policy and extant practices such that ALL people are equitably accorded the opportunity to enjoy a high quality of life. This led Beriline to pursue further studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. While receiving a BA in Community Health and Sustainability, she secured a grant in 2013 from the Commonwealth Honors Program to conduct independent research in social determinants of health in Cameroon, Africa. In 2016, through the Masters in Public Health program, Beriline continued her research to study integrative care between psychiatric and medical services at the North Suffolk Mental Health Association. The past eight years Beriline has worked with adults with co-occurring mental and medical disorders, mostly as a liaison between patients and their providers. During this time, it became clear to her that there is a dire need for care providers to reframe healthcare service delivery as a collaborative approach in which the patient’s care demands do not supersede their capacities. In effect, Beriline decided to expand her career by continuing her education to become a Doctor of Nursing Practice (Family Practice, still in training).
Senior Program Coordinator; Residential Services Coordinator
Shukriyah Brown is currently a part time student at the University of Massachusetts Boston finishing her bachelor’s degree in human services. Ms. Brown will then pursue a Masters in Social Work. For the last four and a half years, Ms. Brown has worked as a senior program coordinator and residential services coordinator for a non-profit organization in group homes for individuals with various clinical diagnoses. A key part of her role is advocating for these individuals to ensure they have the best quality of life possible, while maintaining a person-centered approach to care. Ms. Brown is a member of the Cancer and Mental Health Collaborative Stakeholder board. With the support of the Trefler foundation, she will collaborate with the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program as the community health navigator.
Program Manager, Cancer and Mental Health Collaborative Clinical Research Coordinator, Cancer Outcomes Research Program
Catherine Callaway is a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Cancer Outcomes Research Program (CORe). After graduating from Harvard College in 2017 with a B.A. in Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology, she joined the CORe team. Catherine works with Dr. Kelly Irwin on multiple projects focused on understanding health disparities for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) and cancer. Her primary study is a pilot randomized controlled trial that aims to assess the efficacy of proactive psychiatry consultation and case management on improving cancer outcomes for patients with SMI. Catherine is also the program manager for Dr. Irwin’s Cancer and Mental Health Collaborative, a community network of diverse stakeholders that engages patients and caregivers to conduct patient-centered research at the intersection of cancer and mental health care.
Clinical Research Coordinator, Cancer Outcomes Research Program
Catherine Pappano joined the Cancer Outcomes Research Program (CORe) as a Clinical Research Coordinator in July 2018 after graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from Loyola University Maryland. Catherine works with Dr. Kelly Irwin on research focused on reducing health disparities for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) and cancer. Catherine also works with Dr. Efren Flores on a study that aims to increasing Lung Cancer Screening awareness, access and participation for individuals with SMI. She is grateful to be a member of CORe’s amazing interdisciplinary team. Catherine plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology after her work in CORe.
Medical Student, Columbia University
Lauren Fields is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated from Harvard College in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology and joined the Cancer Outcomes Research Program (CORe) team in 2015 after assisting with research at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government for the previous year. Lauren worked with Dr. Kelly Irwin from 2015-2017 on multiple projects focused on health disparities for individuals with serious mental illness. Lauren worked with Dr. William Pirl on projects focused on the influences of mood on cancer outcomes and assisted with the annual Workshop on Methods in Supportive Oncology Research. Lauren currently attends Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and is particularly interested in exploring the intersection of mental and physical health.
3rd Annual Bridging the Divide Symposium Friday, April 12th 2019 Boston Marriott | Cambridge
Combining Data and Narrative to Impact Policy - Dr. Dhruv Khullar This is a video from the plenary speech of the 2019 Bridging the Divide: Cancer and Mental Health Care Symposium.
Dhruv Khullar, M.D., M.P.P. is a physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and an assistant professor at the Weill Cornell Department of Healthcare Policy and Research. He is also a contributor at the New York Times, where he explores the intersection of medicine, health policy, and economics. He currently serves as a Senior Research Fellow at NYC Health + Hospitals, and as Director of Policy Dissemination at the Physicians Foundation Center for Physician Practice and Leadership. His work has appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Health Affairs, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Atlantic, Slate, and other lay and academic publications.
On May 11th and 12th, 2018, psychiatric oncology clinicians and researchers from the Cancer Outcomes Research Program at Mass General Hospital joined with oncologists, community mental health clinicians, patients, caregivers, advocates, and policy-makers in the second annual symposium dedicated to promoting equity in cancer care for patients with serious mental illness. This two-day event highlighted best practices at the intersection of cancer and mental health care, advances in patient-centered research, the patient and caregiver perspective, the importance of communication across disciplines and institutions, and a shared commitment to promoting equity in cancer care and increasing access to research. Thank you to the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, the Mass General Cancer Center, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute for their generous sponsorship and to the 250- plus attendees who came together to foster collaboration and generate new solutions. We are excited about next year!
View 2018 event agenda
Day 1 Welcome & Introductions
Speakers: Kelly Irwin, MD, MPH, Director, Collaborative Care & Community Engagement Program, Mass General Cancer Center;David Ryan, MD, Chief, Hematology/Oncology and Clinical Director, Mass General Cancer Center;Joan Mikula, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
Research: Lessons Learned & Remaining Questions: Focus on Prevention
Speaker: Elyse Park, PhD, MPH, Associate Director of Survivorship Research and Psychosocial Services, Mass General Cancer Center; Director of Behavioral Sciences, Mass General Tobacco Treatment & Research Center
Implementing the Collaborative Care Model to Deliver Population Based Psychosocial Oncology Care
Speaker: Jesse Fann, MD, MPH, Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, UW; Director, Psychiatry & Psychology, SCCA; Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutch
Patient Narrative: Arthur's Story
Caregiver Narrative: Kelly Grill
Progress Made: Promoting Equity in Cancer Care & Research for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness
Speaker: Kelly Irwin, MD, MPH, Director of Collaborative Care & Community Engagement Program, Mass General Cancer Center
Panel: Barriers to Participation in Research for People with Mental Illness
Panel Moderator: David Henderson, MD Panel Members: Beverly Moy, MD, MPH; Andrew Nierenberg, MD; Allen Doederlein; Richard Schilsky, MD, FACP, FASCO, FSCT
Partnering Effectively to Improve Care, Accelerate Research and Advance Policy
Speaker: Lisa Dixon, MD, MPH
Policy: Strategies that work, Broadening our reach
Moderator: Benjamin Sommers, MD, PhD Presenters: Paul D’ Alton, D. Clin. Psych.; Inga Lennes, MD, MPH, MBA; Senator Cindy Friedman; Kathy Sanders, MD
Day 2 Welcome & Introductions
Speakers: Bruce Chabner, MD, Allen Distinguished Investigator & Clinical Director Emeritus, Mass General Cancer Center;Kelly Irwin, MD, MPH, Director of Collaborative Care & Community Engagement Program, Mass General Cancer Center
Engaging Family and Community-Based Caregivers
Speaker: Cheri Andes, MA, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness-Massachusetts
Supporting the Caregiver: The Need for Intervention Research
Speaker: Areej El-Jawarhi, MD, Director, BMT Survivorship Program, Mass General Cancer Center
Speaker: Shukriyah Brown, Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program, Mass General Cancer Center
Panel: Changing the System to Foster Integration and Communication
Panel Moderator: Nancy Norman, MD, MPH Panel Members: Daniel Breslin, MD; Vicki Fung, PhD; Gary Hodgetts, DipHE; Paula Richard, BSN
Roundtable: Coming Together to Create a Shared Agenda
Everyday Amazing at the 2018 Bridging the Divide Symposium.
Bridging the Divide: Psych Onc Symposium, May 2018, Montage.
Bridging the Divide: Psych Onc Symposium, May 2018: Amy Corveleyn, MSW, LICSW.
Bridging the Divide: Psych Onc Symposium, May 2018: Kelly Irwin, MD, MPH.
Bridging the Divide: Psych Onc Symposium, May 2018: Ryan Nipp, MD, MPH.
Bridging the Divide: Psych Onc Symposium, May 2018: Shukriyah Brown.
Bridging the Divide: Psych Onc Symposium, May 2018.
Held on May 5, 2017 in Boston, this event brought together a diverse group of leaders in mental health and cancer care from throughout New England to: 1) interact with patients and families 2) discuss how to change the dialogue when talking about mental health, and 3) brainstorm ways to close the gap in the inequity of cancer care for mental health patients. In addition to patients and caregivers, experts from 30 hospitals, the American Cancer Society, the National Alliance of Mental Illness, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, the Massachusetts State Legislature and others participated in the symposium. View 2017 event agenda
View a summary of the 2017 symposium, and share your feedback with us. Open this google doc and add your comments to our working summary of the Bridging the Divide: Mental Health and Cancer Care Symposium.
Panel One: Narratives of Mental Health and Cancer Care
Moderators: David Ryan, MD, Clinical Director, Mass General Cancer Center; and Ilana Braun, MD, Director of Psychosocial Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.Narrative 1: Joan and Henry Archibald, Lipika Goyal, MD, Keri Brenner, MD. Narrative 2: Caryn Metzger, NP, Anna Farago, MD.
Panel Two: Leaders in Mental Health and Cancer Care
Moderator: Jerrold Rosenbaum, MD, Chief of Psychiatry, Mass General Hospital. Panelists: Emma Stanton, MD, Beacon Health Options. Inga Lennes, MD, SVP of Service Excellence and Practice Improvement, Mass General Physicians Organization. Representative Christopher Markey, JD, Chairman of the House Ethics Committee and State representative from Dartmouth and New Bedford. Kathy Sanders, MD, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Mental Health.
Plenary: Bridging the Divide
Speaker: Kelly Irwin, MD, Director of Collaborative Care & Community Engagement, Mass General Cancer Center.
Call to Action: Why I am Hopeful
Speaker: Oliver Freudenreich, MD, Co-Director, Mass General Schizophrenia Program.
View our Dissemination Strategies document.
View the needs assessment of our stakeholder groups.
We want to hear from you!
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.
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Support the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program
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.
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