Dr. Lindsay Uman’s training and background have led her to a unique position of working in health psychology and mental health, a path that sees her helping patients on both sides of the harbour. At the Dartmouth site she works at the IWK Community Mental Health & Addictions (CMHA) clinic while on the IWK main site she serves on the IWK Complex Pain Team.
At CMHA Uman provides treatment for youth experiencing various mental health issues such as anxiety, OCD, and depression. In her role with the Complex Pain Team she provides support and treatment for youth who are coping with chronic pain.
“Although these may seem like two very different positions there is quite a bit of overlap in terms of presenting concerns,” says Uman. “For example, it’s quite common for youth who have been dealing with chronic pain or health issues to also be struggling with low mood, anxiety, and other related struggles such as keeping up with school.”
As a specialist in treating anxiety and OCD, Uman uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which focuses on identifying and modifying thoughts and behaviours. The fact that these disorders are extremely treatable is what she loves most about this work.
“I have always seen it as a privilege when a young person chooses to open up to me about their struggles,” says Uman. “Being able to help them recognize and use their own strengths, insight and resiliency to overcome difficulties is a huge motivating factor for me.”
Uman believes that recent years have seen several significant improvements to the IWK CMHA program, with one of the main outcomes being improved access to mental health supports for youth. In addition, there have been improved connections between CMHA and the school system, such that mental health supports and clinicians are now more easily accessible to youth at school.
“My colleagues are some of the most compassionate and kind people I’ve ever met,” says Uman. “When I see how passionate we all are to providing the best care possible for families, I am filled with hope for the future.”
Uman is hopeful that society is moving towards a time when it will be no less difficult to tell someone that you have anxiety or depression than it would be to tell them you have diabetes or migraines. It’s all health and being able to talk about these things is a great first step towards addressing them.
“Mental health is no different than physical health in the sense that we all have our struggles at different points in our life, so there is absolutely no shame in reaching out for support,” says Uman. “Ultimately, I would love to help develop more programs and services that can address physical and mental health issues together rather than breaking them into separate areas.”