Mental Health for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer: How to Support Them
Cancer is a devastating disease that affects not only the individual diagnosed but also their loved ones and support community. Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer face unique challenges, including the physical and emotional toll of treatment, the possibility of long-term health complications, and the impact on their education and career aspirations. One aspect often overlooked is the importance of mental health for these individuals.
Mental health is crucial for overall well-being and can significantly impact the quality of life for adolescents and young adults with cancer. They may experience a range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. The physical symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment can exacerbate these emotions. It is important to recognize that mental health struggles are common and normal for individuals in this situation and to provide them with support and resources.
How to provide support
One way to support the mental health of adolescents and young adults with cancer is to provide them with access to professional counseling and therapy. This can be critical for those who are struggling to cope with their diagnosis and treatment. It can also be helpful for family members and friends to seek support for themselves, as caring for a loved one with cancer can be emotionally taxing.
Another way to support the mental health of adolescents and young adults with cancer is to provide them with opportunities for socialization and connection. Being around friends and loved ones can provide a sense of normalcy and remind them that they are not alone in their struggles. It can also be helpful to connect them with support groups of individuals who have gone through similar experiences.
Allow them a sense of control
It is also essential for adolescents and young adults with cancer to have a sense of control and autonomy over their treatment and care, which may include allowing them to be involved in decision-making regarding their treatment and providing them with information and resources to make informed decisions.
Take care of yourself too
Remember: You can’t be a good supporter if you’re running on empty. Balance your own needs with the needs of your friend. Whether that’s ensuring you schedule in your own self-care, start therapy, etc., think about what you need in order to feel like you can support your friend without sacrificing your own well-being
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In summary, mental health is crucial for overall well-being, especially for adolescents and young adults with cancer. Recognize that mental health struggles are common and normal for individuals in this situation and provide them with access to professional counseling, opportunities for socialization and connection, and a sense of control over their treatment and care. By providing support and resources, we can help these individuals navigate their cancer journey with as much resilience and grace as possible.
Learn more about supporting a friend:
- Read Supporting Someone with Cancer While Putting your own Mental Health First
- Watch Mental Health Tips for Cancer Supporters
- Download the Supporter Roadmap
- Follow us on Instagram
- Learn more about the b-present Foundation