Mental health


The Communication and Cultural Competence program is based on case studies that give examples of everyday medical practice in Canada. These modules do not focus on diagnosis and treatment. Instead, they focus on communication between health professionals and patients. Please note that the modules are not intended to show the only way to deal with a situation. Instead, they are intended to provide guidance on how to approach and reflect on these different scenarios.
  • This section focuses on communication issues related to mental health. Here, instead of one case that we follow through time, there are several short scenarios of different mental health problems. The purpose is to illustrate a physician’s communication approach to these different problems, and the adaptation and flexibility required to deal with the patient’s behaviour. These are not complete interviews. You will not see all of the information gathering required to make a psychiatric diagnosis, nor will you see complete management or counselling. By their very nature, these topics require more time.

MCC role objectives


  • Identify the personal and cultural context of the patient, and the manner in which it may influence the patient’s choices (3.2)
  • Effectively communicate in challenging situations (delivering bad news, addressing anger, confusion, medical error, misunderstanding and media interviews) (3.5)
  • Establish a common understanding and negotiate agreement concerning diagnosis, management, and follow-up (4.1)
  • Adhere to provincial or territorial requirements for obligatory disclosure of patient information (child abuse or abandonment, reportable communicable diseases, duty to warn threatened individuals) (6.2)



  • Know and communicate to patients the limits of professional confidentiality (reportable conditions, duty to warn) (2.3.2)
  • Know, and appropriately implement, current ethical and legal aspects of the consent and capacity process (2.4)

Sentinel habits

  • Incorporate the patient’s experience and context into problem identification and management
  • Select and attend to the appropriate focus and priority in a situation
  • Demonstrate respect and/or responsibility

Entrustable professional activities

  • Assess, diagnose and manage patients with chronic diseases across multiple care settings (3)
  • Recognize and implement appropriate disease-prevention and health-promotion (4)


Critical competencies

  • Seek appropriate consultation from other health professionals, recognizing the limits of one’s own expertise (5)
  • Develop rapport, trust and ethical therapeutic relationships with patients and families (8)
  • Accurately elicit and synthesize relevant information and perspectives of patients and families, colleagues and other professionals accurately (9)
  • Demonstrate a commitment to their patients, profession and society through ethical practice (19)
  • Demonstrate knowledge of and apply the professional, legal and ethical codes for physicians (21)


By the end of this module participants should be able to:

  • Understand some of the communication techniques used in interviewing patients with mood or behaviour disorders
  • Know the procedure required for involuntary hospital admission
  • Know the provincial and territorial policies related to prescribing narcotics
  • Understand the legal and ethical issues concerning physician impairment or misconduct
  • Understand the value and limitations of screening tests in clinical practice


Next: Bipolar mood disorder and elder abuse, A