Nick Mehrnoosh, MS Psychology ’22 Presents at St Luke’s Stroke Community Day

by Mya Brossoit

Nicholas “Nick” Mehrnoosh, MS Psychology ‘22, an adjunct faculty member for the School of  Psychology, participated in a guest presentation for Stroke Community Day at Providence St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute on May 18th. His presentation was titled, “Cultivating Self-Compassion and Resilience Post-Stroke.”  Amanda Smith-Treadwell, Senior Speech Language Pathologist with St. Luke’s, writes that, “this is an annual event hosted by St. Luke’s with the goal of providing ongoing support for families and individuals who have suffered strokes …This year’s focus is looking at taking care of yourself beyond the stroke.”

One of the main goals he had in giving the presentation was to emphasize a notion of “intervention through kindness”.  He notes that after an individual has sustained a stroke there are multiple complications, medical and musculoskeletal that can impact their long-term quality of life. Additionally,

These complications can further extend into the psychosocial realm, leaving someone struggling with mood and emotional changes that fundamentally alter how they express their personality, behaviors, and relative self-confidence.

Therefore he promotes self-compassion as an intervention strategy, that can “engender a mindset of mindful kindness towards the stress of everyday life post-stroke, subsequently enhancing emotional resilience into the future.”

When asked how a psychological approach to post-stroke resilience and self-compassion differs from other therapy-based interventions (speech, physical, etc.), Nick notes that interventions for medical and musculoskeletal complications are important, but so is a psychosocial approach.  Physical Therapy strengthens physicality and mobility, Speech Therapy “facilitates the improvement of cognitive-communication skills”, but improving emotional resilience through self-compassion can assist with the psychosocial complications of a stroke. He notes that it isn’t uncommon for post-stroke survivors to experience “persistent depressive symptoms, which are generally described as feeling disconnected from their pre-stroke life.”

By regaining a sense of purpose through cultivating self-compassion, this helps “re-frame the mindset towards a balanced perception of the challenges that long-term rehabilitation can produce. From this avenue, the intention is to reduce or eliminate the relative impact of depression and anxiety symptoms and engender the individual to engage in new activities and roles to create greater post-stroke adjustment and quality of life.”

For current or future students who may be interested in working with stroke patients or their support networks, Nick recommends that they:

Remain open-minded to a stroke survivor’s lived experiences and be willing to engage in new opportunities, which might be outside your comfort zone. There is no growth, personally or professionally, without a modicum of adversity and working with individuals that have sustained a neurological injury can be a difficult task mentally and emotionally. That being said, it’s also very rewarding being a part of helping an individual rediscover their potential, whether you’re an advocate or Psychologist, this is the end goal.

If students would like to pursue experiential learning opportunities, he says to look within local and state communities where hospitals and clinics are in need of volunteers for adult post-stroke care, and  non-profit organizations that work on advocacy at the state level, and advises them to:

Get connected with your advisors in your majors and community stakeholders. As students, you have an opportunity to engage in a variety of environments and it’s best to try as many as possible, because that will help you grow and understand the populations you want to work with and support.

We thank Nick for his time sharing some insight into post-stroke care, and guidance for students who are interested in entering helping professions.