Dr Frank Egan, family doctor | Victoria, BC 

I was part of the Practice Support Program (PSP) to deliver this module. We got a lot of positive feedback from doctors who said it changed the way they practice.

BC doctors are changing the
way they practice medicine
for mental health patients

I feel I’ve become a legitimate advocate, because I’m in the trenches on a day-to-day basis using all the tools. I used it this morning, for instance. And it has changed the way I practice medicine for mental health patients.

Ultimately, I believe my patients have benefitted. Now, instead of shying away a bit from taking on someone with depression, I embrace it. I have more confidence and clearer insight into what my patients need and what type of follow up I can provide. I feel I can support patients in their recovery in much more valuable and authentic way than I did before I went through the training. And I know where my limitations are, and when it’s time to refer a patient.

There’s a therapeutic relationship between the doctor and the patient. I can give my patients tools to work with, which I try to personalize so it has some relevance to the patient.

I think the stigma has lessened with patients as well. They are much more willing to discuss their mental health, much more open to treatment, and more knowledgeable about their mental health.

To give you an example, I had patient who struggled with his mental health for the last two months. One of the tools I gave him was the antidepressant skills log. It is basically 14 different items that he fills in to indicate if he’s done them: “have you done any personal care today, have you had three solid meals today, how many hours of sleep have you had, have you done any exercise today?” So when he came back, he gave me two pages of data. He reported quite an improvement, and we validated that improvement. I did PHQ-9 and the GAD-7 assessments on him, he had dropped by 50% in terms of how ill he was just two weeks prior to this. He had shown a significant, objective improvement.

So we’re marching forward without having to send him to a psychiatrist or a counsellor. He doesn’t have a budget for psychiatry or for psychological counselling either, but he’s worked it out on his own and he feels supported by me and my office. He’s a young guy and he’s also developing life skills that will help him in years to come – skills that are relevant for anybody, whether you have mental health issues or not.

You know, because he’s learning skills and he’s putting in the time and investment, it’s been very healthy for him, and his family really appreciates it.

This is an example that is not uncommon. I think in the past he would not have had as much benefit from me.