Physical and Mental Health: Working Together to Support Vital Programs

The Montreal General Hospital Foundation has been actively involved with the Pharmaprix Run for Women for years. This fundraising activity brings together people who support mental health programs and initiatives.

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in suffering and distress, notes Dr. Karine J. Igartua, Chief Psychiatrist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). She points out that this phenomenon may stem from several factors. Whether it’s isolation because of the pandemic or the increase in psychosis caused by cannabis, professionals must adapt to the growing need and demand.

Dr. Igartua has worked towards improving access to mental health resources for years. From the innovative Transitional Day Program to the visual arts workshops offered by Les Impatients, the initiatives supported through this year’s Pharmaprix Run for Women are significant for patients’ well-being.

The Transitional Day Program: A Reduction in Hospitalizations

This interdisciplinary program is designed for people living with mental illnesses. The Transitional Day Program (TDP)’s approach is centered on emergency intervention in crisis situations. This is done through group and individual activities for people with a variety of diagnoses or levels of functioning.

The program’s distinctive and innovative approach involves taking all the therapeutic components associated with a hospital admission and offering them in an intensive outpatient day clinic setting. This allows patients to receive a series of treatments during the day, without the need to be hospitalized, having to “pause their normal life”. These treatments allow individuals to recover without having to cut off their connection to the outside world. This program also addresses the issue of hospital bed availability. As Dr. Igartua points out, “We don’t have enough beds and this situation has been going on for years, so we developed this program that works very well, that addresses all of the issues that were identified, and that benefits the population.”

The goal of this program is to improve each person’s ability to live with their mental illnesses by developing effective coping strategies in order to gain greater control over their situation. This approach takes into account a person’s usual coping strategies, the reasons why these strategies are not working at the time of the crisis and helps each person develop new ones. This program helps avoid or reduce hospitalizations and allows people to remain in the community.

Les Impatiens: Artistic Expression as a Healing Tool

Artistic expression being a proven method, the team is seeking to add the Visual Arts Workshops by Les Impatients to the services provided. This recovery-focused activity encourages artistic expression mainly through drawing, painting and collage. Les Impatients’ mission is to help people living with mental illnesses by enabling self-expression through creation, increasing self-esteem, developing a sense of belonging to a group, breaking isolation, improving overall health and by reducing hospitalizations. Inspired by this service, Dr. Igartua shares her vision, “we can and should always strive to do better to help our patients and that is exactly what we aim to achieve with these newly added resources in our programs.”

Besides directing meaningful initiatives such as those presented, Dr. Karine J. Igartua is the co-founder of the McGill University Sexual Identity Clinic. The Clinic (MUSIC), which opened in 1999, is a safe and welcoming place for sexual and gender minorities populations. For the past ten years, its main mission has been to help people living with gender dysphoria (discomfort with the gender assigned at birth). People who arrive at MUSIC are questioning what they require to feel good about themselves and their lives, and this exploration of their gender is an integral part of the process.

“Our role as a Mental Health Clinic is to help the individual understand what their gender means to them. Specifically, gender actualization, and how they can express it to be comfortable and live a full and happy life,” says Dr. Karine J. Igartua with hope and conviction. The centre also empowers these people to react and deal with difficult situations and discrimination within society.

The Pharmaprix Run for Women: Get Moving for a Good Cause!

The Pharmaprix Run for Women will be held on June 11 at Parc Maisonneuve. Funds raised will be donated to the Montreal General Hospital Foundation to improve access to mental health services and resources for women and the entire community, in the programs outlined previously.

The Montreal General Hospital Foundation has been committed to supporting mental health initiatives for many years now. We strongly believe that by supporting a woman suffering from a mental disorder, we are also supporting everyone around her.



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