Support Services

St. Paul’s Heart Centre has psychologists and social workers who offer individual and group services.

Psychology Services

Psychological concerns such as stress, anger, and depression are very common, but they can have a direct and indirect impact on heart health and recovery from a heart attack. Research is clear that not only do these factors make it harder to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle (such as diet and exercise advice), they can also affect blood pressure and cholesterol levels. People with depression have an increased chance of dying from heart disease, and can have a significantly slower recovery from surgery. 

We also know that supporting someone who is having health problems can be stressful and affect mood. Three heart clinics at St. Paul’s have psychologists who offer individual and group services to increase awareness of the importance of psychological wellbeing, and to teach skills for better coping. If you are a patient in the Heart Transplant Program or the PACH Clinic, speak to your doctor or nurse to find out if you are able to access psychological services.

There are also some excellent resources available on-line that provide general information and practical strategies for making changes and coping better. The psychologists at St. Paul’s have prepared four short documents:

Depression and Heart Disease


Anxiety and Panic

Anger Management

There are many other excellent free resources prepared by credible experts, including:

Positive Coping With Health Conditions: This workbook covers several topics including Managing Worry, Problem Solving, Managing Depressive Thinking, and a downloadable relaxation recording. 

Antidepression Skills Workbook: A downloadable workbook available in English, French, Punjabi, and Chinese, and an audio book available in English. A website packed with resources, worksheets, and suggestions for people struggling with anxiety. It also includes an entire section for youth, and numerous resources for parents.

Sometimes talking to someone can be very helpful. To find a registered psychologist in British Columbia, please go to The College of Psychologists ‘Find a Practitioner’ site.  You may also locate a psychologist via the BC Psychological Association referral site. You can also find services through your employer’s Employee and Family Assistance Program or through your family physician for additional suggestions.


Dr. Colleen Cannon PhD, R.Psych.  Heart Transplant Program, Cardiac Rehab Program

Dr. Sarah Cockell, PhD, R.Psych.  Pacific Adult Congenital Heart Program

Dr. Quincy Young, PhD, R.Psych.  Heart Transplant Program

Social Work

Social workers provide a supportive, confidential place for individuals, families and caregivers to voice concerns and deal with the many issues that can arise when you or a loved one is ill, disabled or hospitalized. Understanding and navigating the health care system can be stressful. Social workers provide support, expertise and advocacy to help guide patients and families through these challenges.  

The social worker has a wide range of responsibilities. As part of the care team in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU), Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit (CSICU) and all cardiac areas, they can provide emotional support and crisis counselling to help families cope with a life-threatening situation. The social worker ensures that your loved one’s needs are at the centre of their care and will help facilitate communication between patients, family members and the care team. If your loved one is unable to speak for themselves, the social worker can support you to express what they would want and support you to make decisions on their behalf. The social worker also gives practical assistance to identify and access a range of community resources to meet you or your loved ones’ needs.

Social workers in the Heart Centre can prepare patients for discharge by assessing their need for community-based services or helping to facilitate the transition between hospital and home or another care setting.