HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT TO SAY TO SOMEONE WITH CANCER?
This week's World Mental Health Day has focussed all our minds onto those people who are isolated and disconnected from the human contact and communication they need.
One in three people with cancer will experience a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety disorders before, during or after treatment, according to a survey by the Mental Health Foundation.
The charity’s research also suggests that mental health problems that arise as a result from cancer are still too often sidelined. The survey found mental health problems often arise at the very end of cancer treatment, when patients normally expect to recover, with little or no emotional support at hand.
Lee Knifton, head of Mental Health Foundation Scotland said: “Cancer is not just a physical illness, it can have a profound psychological impact and people expect to receive both physical and emotional support when they need it.”
Half of the service users interviewed by the charity stated that they reached an emotional “false summit” at the end of their treatment. This was due to the often unexpected psychological distress created by cancer, stemming from the life changing experiences of cancer and cancer treatment, and also to the lack of available support for mental wellbeing. Once treatment stops, and people leave strictly managed clinical environments, survivors describe feeling as though they had “fallen off a cliff edge”. The sudden loss of support often leaves people feeling isolated and abandoned at a time when support is needed the most.
A recent Cancer Care Parcel article helps you to connect with something as simple as what to say and what not to say to someone with cancer. These tips are equally relevant to a letter but even more, patients with cancer are still people and everyday topics are ideal for conversation.
Read the full Mental Health Foundation article here published in The Scotsman