We were sorry to say goodbye to Hope the elephant at the end of last week but it was time for her to join the rest of the herd at the Australian Private Hospitals Association for another year.
Hope joined us for Mental Health Awareness Week (8 – 14 October) to help us talk about that big elephant in the room, mental health.
Cancer can affect a perons’s mental health in many ways. With a cancer diagnosis comes change and uncertainty. Adjusting to emotional, social and psychological changes can be challenging for the person with cancer, as well as those around them.
Patients may have to contend with a loss of control or independence, low energy levels and changes in their appearance and body function. Carers may feel helpless and grieve for the person they are caring for as they observe the upheaval brought by these changes. Patients and carers can experience depression, anxiety, isolation and loneliness.
The Lifehouse LivingRoom provides evidence-based complementary therapies to benefit mental and physical wellbeing. These include psych-oncology and counselling services, exercise, mind-body practices like yoga and qigong, mindfulness, acupuncture, reflexology and oncology massage. We also run music therapy and art in health programs to help reduce stress and ease anxiety.
Our aim during Mental Health Awareness Week was to spread the word about the benefits these activities bring to mental health and to address specific issues related to cancer patients and cancer care.
We held two expert talks, one on grief and loss and one on how to live well with cancer. And we held a special session for staff because we also need to look after one another as cancer care is not always easy.
It was so beneficial to talk about these issues and to acknowledge the impact cancer can have on everybody who is touched by it, on both sides of the stethoscope.
We wanted to let people know that help is available and it’s OK to seek it. That living with cancer is challenging and that there are activities and strategies to draw on to make it easier. And that acknowledging and talking about the elephant in the room makes it seem a lot less daunting and more manageable.
Huge thanks to APHA for giving us this excellent opportunity to have these conversations.