Psychosocial and Educational Program

M-COPE, the U-M Congenital Heart Center Psychosocial and Educational Program, leads clinical and research initiatives to understand and address stressors impacting our heart patients and families, such as adjustment to illness, mental health concerns, and educational challenges. Our M-COPE team includes social workers, psychologists, child life and educational specialists, and patient and peer mentors. We recognize that emotional wellbeing is critical to both heart and family health! 

M-COPE Patient and Family Support: 

Social Work  

The Congenital Heart Center team includes inpatient and outpatient social workers who are available to all patients and families receiving care in the Congenital Heart Center and offsite clinics. Our social workers provide support in various ways, some of which include: 

  • emotional support, counseling and strategies for coping with illness 
  • connecting patients and families to local, state and national resources
  • promoting communication between health care teams, patients and families
  • assisting with travel coordination and lodging options for hospital visits
  • assisting with insurance challenges and aide in problem solving other barriers to care and treatment, such as financial, housing and transportation needs 

To connect with a Congenital Heart Center social worker, ask your medical provider for a consult. Social workers may contact you as part of your regular care, but you can also request social work support at any time.

Pediatric Psychology 

Our Congenital Heart Center pediatric psychologists provide assessment and therapy to children, teens and young adults in and out of the hospital setting to address a number of things, including:

  • coping with illness
  • anxiety or sad mood
  • behavioral challenges
  • adherence to medical treatment
  • pill swallowing and procedural preparation
  • patient and family impact of illness

Many psychology visits can now occur virtually, increasing our ability to provide important mental health care. Neurodevelopmental and neuropsychological assessments for our patients are also available through our renowned Neurodevelopmental Follow-Up Clinic.  

In addition to the psychologists working in the Congenital Heart Center, the Division of Pediatric Psychology at Michigan Medicine offers many specialized clinics to meet the needs of patients and families. Some of these specialty clinics include focus on chronic and severe pain management, weight management, sleep, toileting and feeding. If interested in arranging a visit with pediatric psychology, please ask your cardiology clinician for a referral. 

Child and Family Life 

The Child and Family Life team is made up of trained professionals with expertise in helping reduce the stress and anxiety associated with hospitalization and illness. Child life will be available to you throughout the Congenital Heart Center, including cardiology clinic, inpatient 11W care and the Pediatric Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (PCTU). Some of the services we offer include:

  • procedural preparation and support 
  • tours before surgery or hospitalization 
  • coping tips and tools  
  • art, music, creative activities and other positive distractions 
  • memory making and bereavement support

Educational Specialist 

Our Congenital Heart Center education specialist and hospital teachers work alongside our medical teams to serve as the bridge between the medical setting and the school community. They can assist patients and families with: 

  • navigating school challenges
  • obtaining educational services (IEP and 504 Plans)
  • return to school plans 

To meet with our education specialist, please ask your cardiology clinicians or social worker to help connect you.

Caregiver and Patient Peer Mentors

Our parent/caregiver and patient mentors have lived with congenital heart disease and heart illness. They understand the emotional challenges and the toll it can take on the patient and family members. All mentors are volunteers at Michigan Medicine who have received training on being a mentor. Our mentors: 

  • provide a listening ear and emotional support 
  • provide helpful information, guidance and care management strategies
  • offer a network of peers to help those experiencing a health issue to not feel alone 
  • host virtual opportunities for connection

To connect with a Congenital Heart Center peer mentor, ask your cardiology clinician, social worker or psychologist to assist with arranging a visit or phone call. 

To learn more about all of the Support Services available through C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, visit the Support Services page

Additional Resources

Please visit the Resources for Patients page to find helpful resources such as our Heart Guidebook, an events calendar and other heart education resources. Our events calendar is regularly updated with support and educational offerings for patients and families, including virtual support groups and free conferences or webinars for patients and families featuring leaders in pediatric cardiology care and research.

M-COPE Research:

Our Congenital Heart Center clinicians and researchers are leading the way to better understand psychosocial outcomes and interventions in pediatric cardiology. Currently, our psychosocial research is funded by the NIH, Additional Ventures and Enduring Hearts, as well as generous donors.  We are proud to be leaders in the science of psychological health in pediatric and young adult heart disease – informing clinical care and intervention at our center and throughout the world. 

Recently published research from our team: 

  •, Pediatric Transplantation, March 2021 Drs. Amanda McCormick, Heang Lim and Melissa Cousino from our heart center helped to conduct the first review of all the research published on psychosocial functioning in pediatric patients with ventricular assist devices (VAD) and their families. This study helped us to identify the time points our patients on VAD and their families are in greatest need of support and resources. 
  • Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on CHD Care and Emotional Wellbeing, Cardiology in the Young, December 2020
    A team from our heart center, led by Drs. Melissa Cousino and Kurt Schumacher, conducted an international study of over 1,200 pediatric and young adult heart patients and families to understand the toll of the pandemic on cardiac care and emotional wellbeing. We found that stress related to the pandemic was very high in both pediatric patients and caregivers/parents.  Worries about the impact of the pandemic on heart care and heart health were also notable. Participants shared that online resources and therapy services were helpful supports for managing pandemic-related stress. 
  • Generalized and Specific Anxiety in Adolescents Following Heart Transplant, Pediatric Transplantation, December 2019
    Dr. Amanda McCormick and team conducted this important study which found that one in four teenage post-heart transplant recipients experience an anxiety condition. Greater anxiety was associated with older age at listing and more post-transplant problems, as well as more medication adherence challenges. This research helps us know how to best help our post-transplant recipients.