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Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.

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Mental Health

What is mental health?

Good mental health and supportive relationships are an important part of navigating life when your child has a serious illness.

Mental health includes psychological, emotional, and social well-being. It includes how we feel, think, act, and relate to other people.

Having good mental health can improve medical outcomes and quality of life for both patient and family.

Ways better mental health supports medical outcomes:

  • Coping with procedures and daily medical needs
  • Adherence to medication and other therapies
  • Managing stress
  • Understanding information and making decisions
  • Supporting healthy habits like sleep, nutrition, and physical activity

There are many challenges that can negatively impact mental health in families facing serious childhood illnesses. These challenges include:

  • Coping with physical symptoms
  • Worry about the future
  • Stress of care decisions
  • Change in daily routine
  • Financial concerns
  • Separation from friends and family
  • Managing life outside of the illness

Ups and downs in mental health while caring for a seriously ill child are normal. Negative thoughts and emotions are normal. Feelings of stress, worry, and sadness are normal, too.

Sometimes, these feelings are symptoms of a more serious problem like anxiety or depression. But, more often, these are normal reactions to a difficult time.

Healthy adjustment is a process. It can be easy to neglect mental health when the focus is on immediate medical needs. Even if you and your family are coping well, you might still benefit from mental health resources and support.

Support for mental health can come from:

Key points

  • Good mental health is vital for families dealing with a serious childhood illness.
  • Support is available for families and children during difficult times.
  • Mental health professionals can help you deal with your feelings.
  • Other sources of support, like your family and friends, can help, too.

Reviewed: February 2023