Too many people failing to get mental health services they need: experts
OTTAWA, March 19, 2013 /CNW/ - New guidelines released today for
physicians, nurses and allied health professionals recommend depression
screening for all individuals living with stroke and their caregivers.
The incidence of depression in both groups exceeds 30 per cent - and
too many people fail to receive proper care, according to experts.
"The occurrence of post-stroke depression and changes to cognition
affect a large proportion of patients who have experienced stroke,"
says Dalhousie University professor Dr. Gail Eskes, who chaired an
expert national panel on Mood and Cognition in Patients Following
Stroke. "Of equal concern is the large number of spouses and informal
caregivers who experience depressive symptoms in the post-stroke
New recommendations, posted at www.strokebestpractices.ca, will be widely disseminated in the Canadian health-care community.
Recent reports on the quality of stroke services in Canada show
inconsistent screening and monitoring of stroke patients for depression
and cognitive changes, even in large urban centres. Treatment delays
may lead to poor outcomes, prolonged recovery and desperation on the
part of patients and families.
This update to the Canadian Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care marks a new emphasis on psychological care of family and caregivers in
addition to stroke patients. Depression can happen at different points
in the recovery process - from months to years after the stroke. Annual
assessment is recommended for patients and caregivers, who should have
access to specially trained providers with expertise in mental health,
neuropsychology, psychiatry and occupational therapy.
"Stroke impacts on the whole family, not just the person who has
suffered a stroke," says neuropsychologist Dr. Elizabeth Gilchrist of
Glenrose Hospital in Edmonton, who helped develop the new
recommendations. "Just like the patient, families and caregivers are at
heightened risk of depression after a loved-one has had such a health
crisis. With these new guidelines, there is not only recognition of
the value of regularly monitoring the mood of patients but of the
importance of doing so for the patient's family and caregivers."
Neurologist Dr. Eric Smith of the Calgary Stroke Program, a member of
the expert panel says: "Depressive symptoms are very common and may
inhibit full recovery from stroke, including return to work. Depression
is not seen only in severe strokes. Many patients with milder strokes,
even strokes that appear to have resolved completely, may be still
affected by depression or cognitive problems that decrease quality of
Recommendations also highlight the need to screen stroke patients for
cognitive decline and dementia. Research shows that two-thirds of
patients experience cognitive impairment (changes to the way they
think) and as many as a third of patients develop dementia. Mortality
rates among stroke patients with cognitive impairment are double those
of other patients.
The Canadian Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care is a joint initiative of the Canadian Stroke Network and the Heart and
There are about 50,000 strokes in Canada every year and 300,000 people
living with the after-effects of stroke. Stroke is a leading cause of
adult disability and a leading cause of death. Learn more by visiting www.strokebestpractices.ca.
The Canadian Stroke Network (www.canadianstrokenetwork.ca) is a national research network headquartered at the University of
Ottawa. It includes scientists, clinicians and health-policy experts
committed to reducing the impact of stroke.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease
and stroke, reducing their impact through the advancement of research
and its application, the promotion of healthy living and advocacy.
Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make
it happen. Heartandstroke.ca
The Foundation is asking all Canadians to Make Health Last by taking
action today to give themselves, their friends and families longer,
healthier, fuller lives. Take the Heart&Stroke risk assessment today at makehealthlast.ca
SOURCE: CANADIAN STROKE NETWORK
For further information:
For information, please contact:
Canadian Stroke Network