Counselling for cancer

9th October, 2020

World Mental Health Day - how do people affected by blood cancer benefit from counselling?

At Leukaemia Cancer Society we have been supporting patients with blood cancer and their families for over 25 years. Every 14 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. Patients and the people they love have to cope with a huge range of emotions. Often their lives are on hold and sometimes, sadly they have to deal with death and bereavement. These experiences have a huge impact on people’s mental health and many people need support.

We wanted to find out if people seek counselling, if they get easily accessible support and how or if the counselling helped them. We plan to use the data to redevelop our counselling service and to fundraise so we can support more patients and families.

Our preliminary findings show a mixed picture. Nearly half the respondents were never offered counselling and just over a quarter said they were not interested. Of the people who did have counselling over 66% found it very helpful and 21% somewhat helpful. Less than one third felt they had enough sessions, many had fewer than eight sessions though one outlier had 150 sessions.

One of the key benefits was being able to talk to someone other than family and friends, the majority of respondents who were helped by counselling said this. For some it meant they could express fear, anger or sorrow without upsetting their loved ones. For others it meant they could talk about cancer without getting unwanted advice (however well meaning). Other people found the opportunity to explore their thoughts really useful, saying that it clarified their reaction to particular situations and gave them strategies to cope.

The majority of people were able to speak to a counsellor in their first language and who understood their culture. This may be a positive finding, or it may indicate that our survey did not reach a broad spectrum of cultures.

You can still fill in the survey and we will update the results every year.

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