Psychiatry is the medical specialty aimed at improving mental health. Psychiatric clinicians have a deep understanding of physical and mental health. They understand how physical and mental health affect each other

Our psychiatry service includes psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, and trainee psychiatrists (registrars). They work with psychologists, social workers, and music therapists. Together they make up the Psychosocial Oncology Program. Our psychiatric clinicians work with people with cancer and their families. They deal with all types and stages of cancer. They have skills in assessing and planning treatment for people. They serve those with both cancer and mental health problems. The treatments may include psychological, pharmacological, and social approaches.  

Here are some of the issues people bring when they see one of our psychiatric clinicians. 

  • How do I adjust to having cancer? 
  • How can I accept the changes to my body? 
  • Will my relationship ever be the same? 
  • Why me? 
  • I am worrying my cancer will come back – is that normal? 
  • How do I communicate better with my children, partner or friends about cancer? 
  • How do I learn to relax/sleep better? 
  • How do I keep cancer in perspective? 
  • How can I manage my depression (feeling low, hopeless, crying a lot)? 
  • What can I do to feel less anxious (panic attacks, worry, anticipatory nausea)? 
  • How do I make treatment decisions (such as whether to have a particular treatment or not)?  

How psychiatry can help 

Cancer affects people in many ways. You and your family may experience significant emotional change after a cancer diagnosis. There are also the associated treatment effects and other life adjustments. All sorts of mental health reactions can occur. Depression and anxiety are particularly common. 

You may also have had a pre-existing psychiatric disorder when diagnosed with cancer. Our psychiatric clinicians can look after your psychiatric disorder. They will do so in a way that allows you to get the cancer treatment you need. 

Cancer and its treatments can also affect the brain. This can lead to changes in thinking and behaviour. Our psychiatric clinicians can help recognise and manage these changes. 

Our psychiatric service can supply assessment and treatment. They also work with community clinicians. This ensures you get the best possible mental health care and cancer care. 

Referral information 

You can self-refer or have your treating team refer you. This can include other clinicians if part of your cancer treatment is with us. 

We triage all referrals to psychiatry, social work, psychology, and music therapy. This means that a staff member will contact you. They will ask you for your basic details and find out the urgency. They will then arrange an appointment with the right clinician. 

Psychiatry contact

Phone: (03) 8559 5220 

Related links

Cancer Council Victoria