Sarah Tulk is an Ontario physician who recently finished her residency training in family medicine at McMaster University
“If only he had chosen a higher floor, we wouldn’t have had to come here!”
These were the words that came out of my preceptor’s mouth. I was a wide-eyed medical student, shadowing in orthopedic surgery. The patient was an older man who had sustained multiple fractures after attempting to end his life by jumping from an apartment building balcony. The trauma ward was full, so he was, inconveniently, located on a distant ward which meant his poor choice of departure level was now encroaching on our operating room time. In medical school, I learned that mental illness was shameful before I learned how to use a stethoscope. ...continue reading →
Ronald Leung is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at McMaster University
“I think I’m dying,” one of my patients says to me one day. We stop, halting in the middle of the hallway of the inpatient acute psychiatry unit that leads toward the interview rooms in the back. She takes in my expression of concern and waves it away. “Not like that,” she laughs, launching into a monologue on the philosophical fragility of human existence. She is articulate beyond her years, just entering the second decade of her life.
She also reminds me of Jude. Despite the disparities in their age and appearance—she is a petite millennial with a distinct sense of style in contrast to middle-aged Jude with his crisp oxford shirts—the same strings seem to reverberate when they speak. ...continue reading →
This week CMAJ published a research study looking at how peer victimization in early childhood is related to mental health problems and suicidality in adolescence. Peer victimization is a broad term that encompasses bullying. The study was published with a linked podcast that I wish I had been able to listen to a few months ago when I was trying to work out how to deal with a situation in which my younger son was being victimized. ...continue reading →
Earlier this year I took my 13 year old son out to lunch to talk about mental health. It just happened that Son #2 and my husband were out for the day and I had a rare opportunity to be alone with Son #1. I didn’t say ‘I’m going to take you out to lunch so that we can talk about mental health.’ I just reckoned that the odds of him listening to me would be higher if a) we were somewhere removed from the all-consuming ‘call of the PS4’, and b) there was a favorite food to both fill his mouth and free his hands from electronic device. So out to eat we went.
I had no idea how to have the conversation I wanted to have. I can tell you that figuring out how to talk him through the gaps left by school sex ed was easy by comparison.
Sophie Soklaridis is an Independent Scientist and the Interim Director of Research in Education at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada
Almost 23 years ago, I wrote a Master’s thesis that emerged from my experience with breastfeeding my son. After writing the cathartic 260-page thesis, I thought I was done with thinking about breastfeeding. Then I read about a woman with postpartum depression who died by suicide, with one of the main explanations she wrote in a note being that she was unable to exclusively breastfeed her baby. I also read Chaput and colleagues’ enlightening article in CMAJ Open on the link between breastfeeding difficulties and postpartum depression. When I recently started talking to new and expecting mothers, I realized that very little seems to have changed in the discourse around breastfeeding and the experience of being a “good” mother since I went through that lonely and painful time in my life. ...continue reading →
Barbara Sibbald, News and Humanities editor for the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reads the CMAJ Humanities Encounters article "Words, deeds and interpretations". The article is written by Dr. Mary Seeman, professor emerita, in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
In the article, Dr. Seeman, an older psychiatrist, recounts how acting instead of talking can net rather dire results. The events are true but happened decades ago.
“Medical professionals concentrate on repair of health, not sustenance of the soul”.
Atul Gawande’s recently published book, Being Mortal, discusses the treatment of our elderly population and the various flaws of our health care system. One important point from the book is that health care providers such as physicians and nurses are too focused on physical well-being while forgetting about the less tangible necessities of life.
When an elderly individual is sent to a nursing home, safety is the highest priority. Residents are provided with call bells, ramps, elevators, nurses, and physicians who come directly to their rooms. This seems beneficial, as physical health is maintained. With 24 hour nursing surveillance and living in single rooms, residents are less prone to injuring themselves. It is a situation that seems optimal for both the caregivers and seniors. Why, then, is the rate of depression and sadness so high among the elderly population in nursing homes?
Stuart Kinmond reads the CMAJ Humanities Encounters article "Cutting through the shame". The article is written by Stephen P. Lewis, associate professor in psychology at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario. In the article, the author reflects on a period of self-injury and what he learned from it.