Cancer is one of the most common major health problems in Australia with an estimated 145,000 new cases diagnosed every year (Cancer Council, https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/what-is-cancer). Anyone can develop cancer, and while many people recover, the cancer diagnosis and treatment process is often very difficult. Even after successful treatment, patients often face mental health challenges.
While friends and family are needed to help cope with the stress of cancer, you may have questions about cancer and need more support. Perhaps you know someone who is coping with cancer and need support yourself to understand and cope with the stress or grief this may cause.
We have all been affected by cancer or know someone who has been affected by cancer, and many individuals need support to face this challenge. Digital mental health resources can provide information, emotional support, counselling, and help connect people affected by cancer. Below is a list of evidence-based and evidence-informed digital mental health resources to support Australians affected by cancer to take care of their mental wellbeing.
Cancer Counselling Service
The Cancer Counselling Service offers telephone counselling for anyone diagnosed with or affected by cancer, as well as online information and peer support. The telephone support line is a confidential service run by Cancer Councils in each state and territory. Users can speak to trained staff for information, emotional and practical support, or support service recommendations in your area.
The Cancer Counselling Service website also offers support groups, cultural resources, practical assistance, emotional assistance, and online support services (including cancer information resources and podcasts on real-life stories or cancer information), and a collection of personal stories. The service also provides support and guidance for end-of-life issues and bereavement support.
Anyone across Australia can access the Cancer Counselling Service at www.cancer.org.au or call 13 11 20.
CanTeen and CanTeen Connect
CanTeen is a phone, online and email counselling and information service for young people, aged 12 to 25 years, coping with cancer. The CanTeen website offers peer support, information, and eCounselling to young people coping with cancer either through their own diagnosis or a family member or friend diagnosed with cancer. CanTeen helps young people understand cancer, deal with their feelings about cancer and connect with other young people who face similar experiences.
CanTeen hopes to reduce the levels of distress and isolation young cancer sufferers tend to feel by providing information and mental health support. They also provide grief, loss and bereavement support for young people.
CanTeen Connect is an online community for your people dealing with their own or a close family member’s cancer. The service includes discussions, events, and counselling support for young people seeking support. Their counselling service is free and confidential, providing a place for young people to feel heard, while the events and discussions provide community support from other young people who are facing the same challenges.
Both CanTeen and CanTeen Connect do require registration to access. CanTeen’s services can be accessed at www.canteen.org.au with access ranging from read-only access minimal registration allowing users to remain anonymous, to full access with registration requiring full demographic details and surveys. Users can join the CanTeen Connect community at canteenconnect.org.
Finding My Way
Finding My Way is an online program providing information, suggestions, and support to improve physical and mental wellbeing in people receiving treatment for cancer. The online self-help program was developed as part of a clinical trial for Australians undergoing cancer treatment or recently diagnosed with cancer. It is now a publicly available, 6 module program offering information, worksheets, online activities, quizzes, meditation, and personal note-taking feature, relevant to cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Participation involves completing an online survey when you register for the program and working through the 6 modules. Find My Way also includes a booster module one month after completing the main program, and 3 online surveys to be completed directly after completing the main program, 3 months later and 6 months later.
Finding My Way can be accessed at findingmyway.org.au/welcome and does require registration to work through the program.
Livewire is a safe, secure online community to help young people aged 12 to 20 years, and their siblings, cope with the impacts of serious illness, mental illness, chronic health conditions, or disability. Whether at home or in a hospital, teens living with illness or disability and their siblings can visit Livewire to connect with other young people who understand what they are going through.
While Livewire provides support for a broader range of health issues, young people coping with cancer can access peer support and connect with other young people facing serious health conditions and livewire representatives. From peer support through difficult times and chats to quiz and trivia nights, Livewire provides a caring space where teens living with illnesses and their siblings can find support and feel happy.
Australian Teens can create an account and access Livewire at livewire.org.au.