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

The psychiatric service at Peter Mac includes psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, and trainee psychiatrists (registrars), who work closely with psychologists, social workers and music therapists as part of the Psychosocial Oncology Program.

Psychiatric clinicians at Peter Mac are experienced in working with people with cancer and their families; they deal with all types and stages of cancer. They have expertise in assessing and planning treatment for people with both cancer and mental health problems. The treatments may include psychological, pharmacological and social approaches.

Some of the questions and concerns people bring when they see a psychiatric clinician at Peter Mac include:

  • 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 different ways. You and your family may experience significant emotional adjustment following a diagnosis of cancer and the associated treatment effects and other life adjustments. Depression and anxiety are particularly common, but all sorts of mental health reactions can occur.

You may have also have had a pre-existing psychiatric disorder when you were diagnosed with cancer. Psychiatric clinicians at Peter Mac have the expertise to look after your psychiatric disorder in a way that allows you to get the cancer treatment you need.

Cancer and its treatments can also directly affect the brain, leading to changes in thinking and behaviour, which psychiatric clinicians can help recognise and manage.

The psychiatric service can provide assessment and treatment, but can also work in conjunction with community clinicians to ensure patients of Peter Mac get the best possible mental health care, as well as cancer care.

Referral information

Patients can self-refer, or be referred via other clinicians both within and outside Peter Mac, as long as part of their cancer treatment is at Peter Mac.

All referrals to psychiatry, social work, psychology and music therapy are triaged, meaning a staff member will contact the patient to get the basic details, determine urgency, and arrange an appointment with the most appropriate clinician.

Referrals can be made via the Peter Mac referral page , or by directly contacting the Psychosocial Oncology Program at Peter Mac on [email protected] or via our reception during office hours - 03 8559 5220



Phone: 03 8559 5220