I (Srinivasa Murthy R)am a retired Professor of Psychiatry with over four decades of working with persons diagnosed with mental disorders and their caregivers.
This effort is the outcome of my personal journey with cancer, which began in July 2013. During the treatment and the subsequent years, including over 18 months of providing professional support to persons diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers, at The Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and research Centre, I recognised the importance of ÉMOTIONAL HEALTH’. You can read my journey both in the survivors section and professional sections.
The diagnosis of cancer throws life as the individual knows, prior to the diagnosis, to a state of uncertainity. There is a constant effort to find solutions/cures.
As a psychiatrist and a personal diagnosed with cancer, I recognised both from my professional experience and reading published literature, taking care of personal emotional health is an important part of the recovery process. There is sufficient research in this area to give importance to this aspect of recovery, along with medical treatment.
- 1989: 86 patients with advanced breast cancer were divided into two groups, with one of them receiving psychosocial intervention of supportive group therapy. At the end of 10 years,
survival was 37 months for intervention group compared to 19months for control group.(Lancet).
- 1993: 68 patients of melanoma were studied in two groups, with one of them receiving psychiatric group intervention. At the end of 5-6 years, recurrence was half of the controls and death one third of the controls in the intervention group.(Achieves of General Psychiatry).
- 2009: Based on 25 studies, the presence of depression was associated with 25% higher mortality.(Cancer).
- 2014: In 15 studies, involving 2041 subjects, Psychosocial and behavioural intervention prolonged survival for some of the cancer patients in the 2 years after intervention.(Integrated Cancer Therapy).
- 2014: 142 patients were treated in two groups, with one group receiving treatment for depression. Study concluded that depression can be effectively treated.(Lancet)
- 2016: 15 randomised control studies involving 2940 subjects, concluded that use of psychosocial interventions for cancer patients at early stage appeared to have beneficial effects on survival.(Psychological Health)
- 2018: Depression care for persons with cancer is highly effective in improving depression and quality of care.(Lancet)
- The estimated prevalence of emotional distress ranges from 20-80% depending on the criteria of assessment and the stages of illness. It is recognised that nearly all persons diagnosed with cancer experience emotional distress of varying degrees.
However, not only in India, all over the world, emotional health care does not receive the attention that should be given to the same. The reasons are many. Firstly, there is so much of time taken by the investigations, treatment, dietary and other modifications, to leave time to think of emotional health. Secondly, there are few readily available psychosocial services in most cancer facilities. Thirdly, the stigma of taking psychological help prevents people reaching out to the available services. Fourthly, because of the need for continuous and long term basis, interventions get interrupted.
It is for these reasons, the current effort is to EMPOWER the persons diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers with information, skills to take care of their emotional health.
It is hoped that this INTERACTIVE and CONTRIBUTORY resource would lead to better emotional health, better recovery/survival and quality of life of persons diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers.
Ashwini is an IT professional with deep commitment for emotional and spiritual health. She is involved in the set up and maintenance of this website.