Skip to main content

CAMH Patient and Family Learning webinar: Ask the Experts: Mental health and Stroke


While the physical impacts of stroke are often discussed, many people also experience changes in their mental health after suffering a stroke. This can include symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as others. Some of the symptoms may be related to biological changes in the brain, while others are likely more related to the psychological effect of stroke. In this presentation, Drs. Kathleen Sheehan (psychiatrist) and Aleksandra Pikula (neurologist) and Marianne Fedunkiw (person with lived experience) will talk about the impact of stroke on people's mental health, as well as ways of coping and managing with these.

Our Presenters:

Dr. Kathleen Sheehan (she/her) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry and a clinician-investigator with the medical and inpatient psychiatry programs at the University Health Network Centre for Mental Health. She completed her B.Sc. in Neuroscience at the University of St. Andrews and then obtained both her Masters in Neuroscience and Doctorate in Social Psychiatry at the University of Oxford. Subsequently, she graduated from the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University and completed her psychiatry residency at the University of Toronto. Her clinical interests are in the fields of medical psychiatry. Her research, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and University of Toronto, focuses on quality of health care for individuals with co-occurring physical and mental illnesses.

Dr. Aleksandra Pikula (she/her) is an Associate Professor of Medicine (Neurology) at the University of Toronto, a Clinician-Investigator at Krembil Brain Institute, Director of Stroke Neurology Research at UHN and Co-Director of Women's Neurology Fellowship at U of T. She is a founder and director of the largest multidisciplinary Stroke in Young Adults (SiYA) Program in Canada that entails three clinics - Combined CNS Vasculitis, Stroke in Young and Stroke in Women. Dr. Pikula completed her clinical training in Internal Medicine at NYU (MSH), Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, and a three-year combined clinical and research Vascular Neurology fellowship at the Boston University School of Medicine (BMC), at the Harvard School of Medicine (MGH) and at the Framingham Heart Study where she worked for 5yrs prior to joining UHN. Dr. Pikula’ s overarching clinical and research interests are focused on clinical and subclinical cerebrovascular disease in young population, with special interest in sex-disparities and women’s health. Over the past decade, a major focus of her research had been in identifying the biological/molecular pathways and imaging markers for overt/covert vascular brain disease in middle-aged population (Framingham). At UHN/KBI, Dr. Pikula’ s clinical research is focused on sex-disparities in stroke outcomes by utilizing PROMS and studying the effect of various factors (psychological, social, lifestyle) on HRQOL, stroke outcomes and post-stroke needs in young stroke survivors. This led to an emerging interest in developing innovative clinical strategies for primary/secondary stroke prevention in young – The EMBRACE Lifestyle Program. Dr. Pikula’ s work had been published in high impact journals and recognized by, amongst others, the NIH/NINDS & ANA as a recipient of the Investigator Development Award and the AHA/ASA as a recipient of National Clinical Research Awards, which allowed her to study serum levels and genetic variation of various novel biomarkers in stroke and subclinical vascular brain injury. Since arrival to UHN, she maintains collaborations with Framingham Study and holds research support from the UofT, HSFC, CSC and CIHR for several active studies.

Marianne Fedunkiw (she/her) was born and lives in Toronto. After graduate school, Marianne worked as a reporter and editor at the London Free Press, The Globe and Mail, and was part of the team that started The Discovery Channel in Canada. Marianne completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oxford and returned to Oxford having received a grant from The Wellcome Trust to write a full-length play titled Influence of Beauty about Dr Dorothea Maude who served in Serbia during WWI. She is the author of three published books, including her first novel, A Degree of Futility, more than one dozen plays and many articles. She has been invited to workshops, most recently at the Juniper Summer Writers’ Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts and The Banff Centre. Marianne’s current project is a play set in a stroke rehabilitation hospital. She’s also written a medical thriller and an historical novel set in 1930s and 1940s Toronto. She is a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada and the Playwrights Guild of Canada and is a Past President of The Arts & Letters Club of Toronto. Marianne had her first stroke in 1999 at age 34 after which her life returned to normal. In 2014, she had emergency cardiac bypass surgery at Toronto General Hospital. Two years later, she had a series of strokes while back in Oxford. She returned to Toronto, to be treated at the neurology unit at Toronto Western Hospital followed by rehabilitation at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and Women’s College Hospital. While at TWH, she met Drs. Pikula and Sheehan.

Register here for the free webinar.

Who Is Attending

Add Comment

Comments (0)


This website has been funded by a grant from the Government of Ontario.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Ontario.
Link copied to your clipboard.