Improving mental health treatments for stroke patients is the focus of a new study

LONDON, ON- Strokes affect approximately 400,000 Canadians each year and can be debilitating. They can negatively affect a person’s cognition and mobility, and severely impact mental health and wellbeing.


A team at Lawson Health Research Institute are looking to improve mental health treatments and resources for patients who have experienced a stroke. The team will recruit 100 stroke patients to assess whether the completion of a guided therapy program can improve mental health and quality of life.

“More than sixty per cent of patients experience depression after stroke,” says Dr. Robert Teasell, Lawson Scientist and Physiatrist at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Parkwood Institute. “Having a stroke itself makes people more vulnerable and makes people feel their lives have changed negatively.”

During stroke rehabilitation, patients are typically offered mental health treatments, but the research team say it is post rehabilitation that stroke patients tend to experience worsening depression.

“Publicly funded allied health care services are available at inpatient and outpatient care; however, psychology is often limited across the rehabilitation continuum from acute to community care,” says Dr. Swati Mehta, Lawson Scientist. “We are looking at how we can provide a program that is cost effective to help those who have these barriers to access mental health services.”

“Patients have described to me that they feel like they have been dropped off a cliff because of the lack of resources once their programs have ended,” adds Dr. Teasell.

The study will examine the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is an evidence based psychological intervention that aims to provide people with increased coping ability and self-efficacy. Participants will complete a 10-week guided program with specific targeted lessons, tailored to the needs of those post stroke, delivered virtually through a trained clinician. They will then complete a questionnaire to see if there have been any improvements to self-efficacy and emotional wellbeing.

“We have found this form of therapy (CBT) has been very effective and feasible for spinal cord injury patients with mild traumatic brain injury and we want to see how a modified version could potentially help those with stroke and depression,” says Randy Upper, Clinical Research Associate at Lawson.

If CBT is proven effective through this study, Dr. Mehta hopes it will encourage similar programming that would be available to stroke patients after rehab.

“We are hoping we can connect with community organizations and work with them to implement this program in a service delivery model that would be easily accessible for stroke patients living in the community.”

Recruitment for this study is currently underway, those interested in taking part can email Dr. Swati Mehta at:

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Celine Zadorsky

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Lawson Health Research Institute
T: 519-685-8500 ext. 75664
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