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The importance of mental health support when dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment

Updated: 7 days ago

A cancer diagnosis can be a life-altering event. It brings with it a wave of emotions, from fear and anxiety to depression and uncertainty.


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Robust cancer mental health support plays a crucial role in this journey. It helps patients navigate these emotional challenges, enhancing their ability to cope with the disease and its treatment.


This article aims to shed light on how cancer affects mental health and the importance of seeking specialist help. It explores how such support can positively impact the healing process and improve the quality of life.


We delve into the significance of building a robust support network. We also discuss the development of coping skills that can help manage stress and improve mental well-being.


Whether you are a patient, a carer, a healthcare professional or someone interested in the subject, this article offers valuable insights. Let's explore the importance of mental health support when dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment.


Understanding how cancer cancer affects mental health


A cancer diagnosis can trigger a range of emotions. It's not uncommon for patients to experience fear, anxiety and depression. These feelings can be overwhelming, affecting not only the patient's mental health but also their ability to cope with the disease and its treatment.


The emotional impact of cancer can vary from person to person. Factors such as the type and stage of cancer, the patient's age and overall health and their personal and social circumstances can influence how they react to the diagnosis.


Here are some common emotional responses to a cancer diagnosis:

  • Shock and disbelief

  • Fear and uncertainty

  • Sadness and depression

  • Anger and resentment

  • Guilt and blame


Understanding these emotions is the first step towards managing them. It's important for patients (and their loved ones) to acknowledge their feelings and seek help when needed. Mental health support can provide the necessary tools and resources to help individuals navigate these emotional challenges, enhancing their ability to cope with the disease and its treatment.


The role of expert mental health support during cancer treatment


Mental health support plays a crucial role in cancer treatment. It helps patients navigate the emotional challenges that often come with a diagnosis and treatment. This support can come in various forms, tailored to the individual needs of the patient.


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Professional mental health support can include counselling for cancer patients, therapy and psychiatric care, all of which are available at Schoen Clinic Centre for Mental Health Chelsea in London.


These services can help patients manage stress, deal with feelings of fear and anxiety and improve their overall mental well-being on a daily or weekly basis. Initially, patients are fully assessed by one of our private Consultant Psychiatrist cancer specialists in London, working with the Royal Marsden Hospital.


In addition to professional help, support networks of family, friends and healthcare professionals are vital. They provide emotional and practical support, helping patients feel understood and less alone in their journey.


Integrating mental health care into the overall cancer treatment plan can lead to better outcomes. It can improve the quality of life for patients, enhance their ability to adhere to treatment regimens and even positively impact their physical recovery.


Building a support network


A strong support network is a key component of mental health support for cancer patients. This network often includes family, friends, healthcare professionals and fellow patients. They provide emotional and practical support, helping patients navigate the challenges of their diagnosis and treatment.


Family and friends can offer emotional comfort, practical help, and a sense of normalcy. They can listen, provide companionship, and assist with daily tasks. Their support can help reduce feelings of isolation and stress.


Healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and therapists, provide medical and psychological support. They can help patients understand their diagnosis, manage treatment side effects, and cope with emotional distress.


Support groups, both in-person and online, offer a platform for patients to share experiences and find comfort in the community.


These groups can provide:

  • A safe space to express feelings and fears

  • Practical advice from those who have been through similar experiences

  • A sense of belonging and understanding

  • Opportunities to learn new coping strategies and resources.


Building a strong support network can significantly improve the mental well-being of cancer patients. It can provide a sense of community, reduce feelings of isolation, and offer practical and emotional support.


Developing coping skills when dealing with cancer


Coping skills are essential tools to help individuals with cancer manage the emotional challenges of their diagnosis and treatment. These skills can help reduce stress, improve mental well-being, and enhance the overall quality of life.


Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation, can help manage stress and anxiety. They promote a sense of calm and help patients stay present and focused.


Positive thinking and cognitive reframing can also be beneficial. These techniques involve changing negative thought patterns into positive ones. They can help patients maintain a positive outlook and cope with the emotional challenges of cancer.


Coping skills for cancer patients can include:

  • Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

  • Positive thinking and cognitive reframing

  • Regular physical activity and exercise

  • Creative therapies such as art and music therapy

  • Journaling or writing as a form of self-expression.


Developing these coping skills can provide cancer patients with practical strategies to manage stress, improve mental well-being, and navigate the emotional challenges of their cancer journey.


Accessing specialised mental health support when going through cancer diagnosis and treatment


Help is available at Schoen Clinic Centre for Mental Health Chelsea, in London.


Some of these specialised support available include:

  • Expert Consultant psychiatric mental health review

  • Specialist medication management

  • Support for existing mental health conditions

  • Diagnosis and treatment of new mental health conditions

  • Adjustment support

  • Coping with treatment

  • Specialist psychological therapy

  • Trauma-focused therapy

  • Liaison with physical health specialists

  • Assistance with complex capacity issues.


These resources can provide immediate assistance, advice and comfort to those in need.


Integrating mental health care with cancer treatment


Integrating mental health care into the overall cancer treatment plan can lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life. It's not just about treating the physical symptoms of cancer, but also addressing the emotional and psychological challenges that come with the diagnosis.


Healthcare providers are trained to recognise signs of mental distress in cancer patients and refer them to appropriate support services. This holistic approach ensures that patients receive comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of their well-being.


Regular mental health check-ups should be a part of routine cancer care. This proactive approach can prevent more severe psychological issues from developing and ensure that patients receive the support they need throughout their cancer journey.


Taking action for mental wellbeing


Taking care of your mental health is a crucial part of the cancer journey. It's about acknowledging the emotional impact of the diagnosis and seeking the support you need to navigate this challenging time.


Remember, you're not alone. There are resources and support networks available to help you maintain your mental well-being during cancer treatment.


To find out more about our specialised cancer support service at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, please click here. You can contact our team anytime via our website, please reach out today.

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