Dr. Kelly Irwin and patient.

Overview

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.

Our Mission

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

 

Read more of Stefanie and Jonathan's story.

Research

Clinical Trials

BRIDGE: Proactive Psychiatry Consultation and Case Management for Patients With Cancer

Learn more about this trial here on clinicaltrials.gov

Publications

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.

Team

  • Kelly Irwin, MD, MPH

    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.

  • Amy Corveleyn, MSW, LICSW

    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.

  • Efren J. Flores, MD

    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.

  • Ben Macri, NP

    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.

  • Beriline Akwe, RN, MPH

    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).

  • Shukriyah Brown

    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.

  • Catherine Callaway

    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.

  • Catherine Pappano

    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.

  • Lauren Fields

    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.

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.

Events

2nd Annual Symposium
Bridging the Divide: Mental Health and Cancer Care

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 Videos (May 11th, 2018)

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 Videos (May 12th, 2018)

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

 

Engaging Family and Community-Based Caregivers

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

 

More Videos & Photos from the 2018 event


1st Annual Symposium
Bridging the Divide: Mental Health and Cancer Care

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.

2017 Videos

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.

News & Resources

News

Resources

  • Mass General Center for Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral Sciences
    The Center for Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral Sciences brings together experts in psychiatry and psychology to help patients and cope with the psychological and behavioral impact of cancer.
  • Mass General Department of Psychiatry
    For 80 years, Mass General's Psychiatry Department has provided the highest quality patient care through pioneering research.
  • Mass General Cancer Outcomes Research Program (CORe)
    The Cancer Outcomes Research Program (CORe) conducts innovative research and educational programs to improve the experience and outcomes of patients and caregivers across the continuum of cancer care.
  • DF/HCC
    Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center unites the cancer research efforts of five academic medical centers and two Harvard schools.
  • NAMI-Massachusetts
    A vital state resource for individuals and families facing the challenges of mental illness, providing free mental health family-based education, family and peer support and grassroots advocacy.
  • American Cancer Society
    Learn about cancer research, patient services, early detection, treatment and education.
  • Beacon Health Options
    Beacon Health Options provides behavioral health solutions for regional and specialty health plans; employers and labor organizations; and federal, state and local governments.
  • Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
    The Department of Mental Health, as the State Mental Health Authority, assures and provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals of all ages; enabling them to live, work and participate in their communities.
  • The Mood Network
    MoodNetwork, a project of Massachusetts General Hospital, is a nationwide effort to find the best treatments for depression and bipolar disorder. For the first time, patients, families, doctors, and researchers are working together as equal partners to change the direction of mood disorder research.
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.

Join Our Community

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.

Email Us to Join!

Support Us

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.

Donate Now

 

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.

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