How Can I Help?A Week In My Life As A Psychiatrist

By David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden


A humane behind-the-scenes account of a week in the life of a psychiatrist at one of Canada’s leading mental health hospitals. How Can I Help? takes us to the frontlines of modern psychiatric care.

How Can I Help? portrays a week in the life of Dr. David Goldbloom as he treats patients, communicates with families, and trains staff at CAMH, the largest psychiatric facility in Canada. This highly readable and touching account of his daily encounters with a wide range of psychiatric concerns—from his own patients and their families to Emergency Department arrivals—puts a human face on an often misunderstood area of medical expertise. From schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder to post-traumatic stress syndrome and autism, How Can I Help? investigates a range of mental issues.

What is it like to work as a psychiatrist now? What are the rewards and challenges? What is the impact of the suffering—and the recovery—of people with mental illness on families and the clinicians who treat them? What does the future hold for psychiatric care?

How Can I Help? demystifies a profession that has undergone profound change over the past twenty-five years, a profession that is often misunderstood by the public and the media, and even by doctors themselves. It offers a compassionate, realistic picture of a branch of medicine that is entering a new phase, as increasingly we are able to decode the mysteries of the brain and offer new hope for sufferers of mental illness.


David Goldbloom, MD, is Senior Medical Advisor at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. He is a graduate of Harvard University, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar), and McGill University. In 2007 he was appointed Vice-Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and served as Chair from 2012-15. He is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and has authored over 100 scientific articles and book chapters; he has edited two psychiatric textbooks. A noted public speaker, he has received many awards for his contribution to the field of psychiatry, including appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Pier Bryden, MD, is a psychiatrist, clinical teacher, and educator in the Department of Psychiatry at The Hospital for Sick Children, and the pre-clerkship Director of Undergraduate Medical Education and an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto, Oxford University and McMaster University. She has published on ethical and legal aspects of treatment of children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders, as well as professionalism and learning environment in medical education. She is an editor at Ars Medica, an online medical journal; chair of the History of Healthcare Interest Group at the University of Toronto; committee chair at the Medical Council of Canada; and a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada’s History and Heritage Committee.