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Who We Are: Lynn Dykeman

Assistant Professor (PT)
Stonechurch Family Health Centre

“When you’re a social worker people share the wounded places where they carry pain. It’s an incredible honour.”

Social worker helps to heal ‘the wounded places’

Hamilton social worker Lynn Dykeman has drawn a media spotlight to two major charitable efforts in the past five years, spearheading the delivery of shipping containers of donated medical supplies to Kurdish communities ravaged by war in northern Iraq.

Still, she’s quick to say that she’s just as passionate about her day job.

“When you’re a social worker, people share the wounded places where they carry pain. You help them find ways to grieve and create a life they never imagined at their lowest points. It’s an incredible honour.”

Lynn works with Dr. Doug Oliver as coordinator of the mental health and behavioural sciences program offered by McMaster University’s Department of Family Medicine. The program teaches residents in family medicine the skills to provide clinical counselling along with other approaches to manage mental and behavioural health.

A doctor’s key role

She says the province’s family doctors are vital in mental health treatment.

“Most people in Ontario actually get access to treatment for mental health issues through their family doctor.”

By the same token, doctors often become aware of the struggles of senior citizens before anyone else, so she partners with doctors in an emerging specialty of elder mediation.

Called in when family members report a safety concern to a parent’s doctor, she will help establish volunteer and agency support to ensure continued health and independence.

Lynn works with doctors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and other professionals at Stonechurch Family Health Centre on Upper Ottawa Street and McMaster Family Practice in downtown.

Together, these clinics serve 40,000 patients as the McMaster Family Health Team.

“Our (family health) team was one of the first to adopt group treatment for anxiety, depression and many other mental health challenges,” she says.

She leads several groups. “I’m passionate about McMaster and I love teaching so this is the perfect job for me.”

She also continues her work as a weekend warrior for charitable causes – often with her church, St. James Anglican in Church in Dundas.

Today, she’s canvassing the Stonechurch clinic for “somebody’s empty garage” to hold donated furniture for three families soon to arrive under a refugee family-reunification program. She usually finds lots of support.

“My colleagues have been willing victims in every fundraiser,” she says with a quick smile. “I’ve picked up furniture from half the Department of Family Medicine.”

McMaster University Department of Family MedicineMichael G. DeGroote School of Medicine