Supporting people affected by cancer who’ve struggled with their mental health

someone holding another person's hand

For people affected by cancer struggling with their mental health, it can be hard to find information and support. The patient information team, who run our ‘About Cancer’ web pages, identified this gap and wanted to update their content. We set up focus groups to help them understand the experiences and needs of people going through this difficult time.

They heard from people who struggled with their mental health, both prior and following a diagnosis, and those who started to struggle with their mental health whilst caring for someone with cancer. The discussions highlighted a lack of awareness on the impact a cancer diagnosis can have on mental health, also the impact a parent’s or guardian’s cancer diagnosis has on children. They also found that healthcare professionals don’t always ask about mental health and that help, and signposting is minimal.

Just a few of changes made to the information include:

  • There is now information for patients going through diagnosis and treatment and for those who are caring for someone who start to struggle with their mental health.
  • Used insight from lived experience to ensure it resonates with people in similar situations.
  • Raised the profile of the mental health information throughout our website.
  • Included information to encourage and empower people to start conversations about mental health with healthcare professionals.
  • Improved signposting to support organisations, including organisations covering all four nations

"When coming out of the hospital, I thought what now, what do I do? People with mental health issues don’t generally ask for help. They just suffer in silence."
Focus group attendee

“We could not have developed this information without your valuable involvement. We might not have answered everyone's questions or needs, but this is a huge step forward for us and work in progress. I hope you and others find this information useful.”
Patient Information Specialise (Nurse), Patient Information Team


What’s in the future?

The Patient Information team are working on a Looking after your mental health when you have cancer: hearing from others video. They’ve also been in touch with a psychiatrist at the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust who is working on training modules for healthcare professionals on mental health.

Our website receives about 25 million visitors a year; this includes people affected by cancer as well as healthcare professionals. We believe by having this information much more upfront, we will reach a wide audience and better support people struggling with their mental health.

Take a look through our new and revamped Mental health and cancer pages on our ‘About Cancer’ web pages.