MPN Hero Bridges the Care Gap to Address Mental Health Issues in Patients with MPNs


Madeleine Henriquez noticed that the mental health care of patients with MPN was being overlooked and took action in a way that has changed her community for the better.

When she hears the word hero, physician assistant Madeleine Henriquez thinks of someone who has a big impact on a community of individuals to create a positive change — and that’s exactly why CURE® recognized her for when it named her as a 2019 MPN hero.

At the latest MPN Heroes event, Henriquez was nominated for her work at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, to address gaps in patient care when it came to mental health and psychosocial issues.

Henriquez was part of the Physician Assistant Foundation’s inaugural class of mental health first-aid workers in 2017, where she learned to identify signs of mental health distress and help address them, as well as to teach others to recognize and respond to these issues.

Henriquez brought her training back to MD Anderson, where she has shared it with her peers.


CURE® had the chance to follow up with Henriquez after the hero’s ceremony to discuss her award and how she works to bridge the care gap for her patients.Mental health first aid is something that's been around since 2008. So, it's nothing novel, but the Physician Assistant Foundation created a fellowship class to teach physician assistants throughout America to become instructors and then go out to lead classes on mental health first aid. The course is designed to teach individuals within your community, and within your hospital, about common signs and symptoms of mental illness, to destigmatize mental illness and bring mental health to the forefront.

In my line of work, I recognize that a lot of individuals with MPN deal with a lot of psychological issues, whether it be anxiety or depression associated with their diagnoses, and I wanted to bring it to the forefront so that they're more equipped with the ability to talk about it, and possibly feel comfortable discussing the topic and getting help.

I then tried to tie my fellowship into my line of work by going into MD Anderson and teaching courses throughout the year. For the past two to three years, I taught various advanced practice providers, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants and nurses.

My goal is to eventually branch out and teach more individuals within the MPN community, like caregivers and patients, as well.

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