Aussie Cancer Patients' Mental Health Needs Unmet

Cancer Council NSW
two elderly women chatting

Cancer doesn't just affect a person's physical health, it also has a profound effect on their emotional wellbeing.

In our recent Unmet Needs survey, we learned that Australian's affected by cancer experience anxiety, increased sadness and feeling down going without support.

Sadly, we found that more than half of our survey participants with a current cancer diagnosis have unmet psychological needs.

These needs often continue well beyond treatment, with cancer survivors also reporting that their psychological needs are often unmet.

What these results tell us, is that too many people affected by cancer aren't getting the support they need to manage their mental health during and after cancer.

Dealing with the change and uncertainty that cancer brings

People affected by cancer that live in rural and regional areas often find it difficult to access the support services they need.

A client from Cancer Council NSW's 13 11 20 counselling services that was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 recalls, "I've always had long hair, it was so hard to lose it. I remember running my hand through my hair and a big clump came out".

"I was so down, but the tears wouldn't come out. That was just so hard."

"Being rural, we don't have the services that are in Sydney. We can't walk around the corner and get help. We have kilometres and kilometres to travel," she explains.

Finding the support needed to cope with the effects of cancer

Fortunately, our client was finally able to find the support she needed after hearing about Cancer Council's counselling services through her medical centre.

Soon it became clear to her, that there was a gap in the understanding of other counselling services around cancer and the unique ways it tends to affect a person's wellbeing.

"I love my Cancer Council counsellor being there. Initially it was really hard to reach out – even now that I have finished treatment, there are still little things that come up and you have trouble dealing with."

Unlike our client however, there are many others that aren't aware of the support services available at Cancer Council NSW.

This was clear with our survey revealing that only one third of participants had been told about the range of support services available to them through Cancer Council NSW.

We need support from the government to support those affected by cancer

Recent research from The Daffodil Centre has found that 1.52 million people in NSW will be diagnosed with cancer over the next 25 years.

Further to this, the need for Cancer Council's counselling services has doubled over the past five years, revealing an increasing need for support.

It's clearer than ever before, that the next NSW government needs to implement a plan that guarantees those affected by cancer receive the right support to meet their needs all year round.

That's why, in the lead up to the NSW State Election this year, we're calling on the next NSW Government to recognise the ongoing need for support during and after a cancer diagnosis and fill this need.

If you or anyone you know has any questions or concerns about cancer over the festive period, you can call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 or visit our online community at for 24/7 support.

Sign the petition for Cancer Council NSW's Here for Change campaign. Be here for change, be here for life:

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