Cancer survivors are more likely to experience a mental health problem or illness than those without cancer. In fact, some studies estimate that the prevalence of depression and anxiety in people treated for cancer is at least double that in the general public.
These findings on the intersection of mental health and chronic diseases such as cancer were summarized in an in-depth review conducted by the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC) Mental Health and Chronic Disease Network. The Partnership contributed to this review as a member of the network.
Visit the MHCC website for more information and the latest resources on the relationship between mental health and chronic diseases.
Supporting the mental health needs of those living with cancer
There are several ways to support those living with cancer with their mental health needs. This includes:
- implementing mental health screening through all cancer stages so support can be accessed early
- reducing stigma that prevents people from accessing support
- recognizing that some populations are at higher risk of cancer, chronic disease and mental health problems and illnesses
- improving access to timely, culturally safe and high-quality mental health services and supports
As steward of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control (the Strategy), the Partnership has worked with the Canadian Cancer Society, MHCC, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta Health Services, Centre Intégré de Santé et de Services Sociaux (CISSS) de Laval, Cancer and Work and primary health-care providers to lead work on cancer survivorship and mental health. This includes increasing coordination and continuity of care as patients transition from the cancer system back to primary or community care; improving navigation of existing survivorship supports and mental health resources; and increasing primary care provider awareness and understanding of the mental health needs of cancer survivors and the resources available to meet those needs and promote return to work and life.
Delivering information and supports for people living with cancer, families and caregivers is a key priority of the Strategy and will continue to be advanced in the Partnership’s next phase of work by ensuring cancer survivors receive mental health and psychosocial care and support that meets their needs and preferences after treatment.