Behind Integrated Behavioral Health Services

Sap Partners | Schools of Nursing | <b>Allegheny Health Network</b>

In this episode of “The Vitals,” Matt Iwaniec, PsyD, discusses the value of integrated behavioral health programs in cancer care.

In this episode of “The Vitals,” Oncology Nursing News® met with Matt Iwaniec, PsyD, a licensed clinical health psychologist with the stem cell transplant and CAR-T therapy program at Allegheny Health Network, to discuss fully integrated behavioral services as it relates to oncology.

In our discussion, Iwaniec highlights the mechanisms behind psychosocial treatments like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and acceptance and concomitance therapy (ACT), discusses recent advances in the behavioral health space, and underscores the need to normalize behavioral therapy for patients facing a cancer diagnosis.

“Psychologists and behavioral health professionals have a unique skill set that we can bring to the practice of oncology to help patients, families, clinicians, doctors, nurses, teaching assistants, nurse practitioners, etc deal with the stress of cancer—because it is not just stressful on the patient. It is stressful on the whole family, and it is stressful on the teams that are treating them, too.”

Iwaniec expresses that he believes integrated behavioral health care is the “way to go” for the future and should become a standard part of cancer care treatment. However, there still are a lot of unmet needs that need to be addressed, he says.

“There is still a big gap between availability of mental health care and the need for mental health care. It is a problem that is endemic everywherethroughout through all our systems. We are on this path to better integration of mental health care from start to finish with the patient. There are examples of places where that is happening, but often, behavioral health care is not fully integrated [although it] needs to be. The 2 biggest impediments to that are having the [proper] staff, but also getting the general patient population to acknowledge that mental health care is a part of cancer health care.”