Mental health and cancer: a concurrent challenge

    • Cancer and Mental health

      Is your business rising to the challenge?

      Even 10 years after treatment, 54% of cancer survivors are still suffering from at least one mental health problem. And patients with depression are significantly less likely to recover well after treatment for some types of cancer compared to those without depression 1.
      Macmillan

      Cancer prognoses have never been brighter, or the demands on businesses more acute. Thankfully we live in a time where, with improved treatments and care, people facing cancer are living for longer and often thriving – not just surviving – after diagnosis. For many, the opportunity to remain at work with the sense of involvement and routine this provides can be a positive contributing factor. Yet, while many people with cancer continue to work, it accounts for nearly a third of income protection claims for long-term sickness absence paid by UNUM in the UK 2.

      For many patients, work can play an important role in recovery by creating a sense of normality and purpose, which can have a positive impact on their mental health.

      Says Dr Gary Bolger, Chief Medical Officer, AXA PPP healthcare:
      “When more than half a million people who've been diagnosed with cancer are also experiencing a mental health issue, such as depression 3, it is important for employers to consider how best to support affected employees.

      Lack of effective support could be a deterrent to returning to work. Yet, for many employers, it's vital to retain good staff who feel positive and productive in their role.

      With more than 750,000 people of working age living with a cancer diagnosis, and more than half of patients surviving for at least 10 years following it,4 the ongoing nature of the disease can also mean that mental health issues associated with the condition pose a long-term challenge to employees – and to their employers.

      Consideration should also be given to the 500,000 people in the UK who are working full or part time while caring for someone with cancer.

      Ensuring your colleagues, their families and co-workers have sufficient psychological and practical support will help them meet the challenge of cancer with greater confidence courage and reassurance.”

      How can employers help?

      By offering supportive measures such as flexible working or access to professional counselling, employers can help carers to manage the stress of caring and encourage them to keep working, too.

      An effective health and wellbeing programme may combine healthcare cover with access to employee assistance programmes, occupational health services and virtual private GP services. The best provide access to care and support every step of the way – going beyond the statutory duty of care to help employees get and stay physically and mentally well enough to work.

      Valuable insights for your business

      In order for businesses to be prepared to face the challenges that cancer poses in the workplace, we have provided further insights to support and inform you and your business. Download our brochure: Helping your businesses to face the complexities of cancer today.


      1 www.macmillan.org.uk/aboutus/news/latest_news/cancer-patients-with-depression-struggle-to-get-their-lives-back-after-treatment.aspx#_edn4

      2 www.unum.co.uk/media/third-long-term-absences-caused-by-cancer

      3 www.macmillan.org.uk/aboutus/news/latest_news/cancer-patients-with-depression-struggle-to-get-their-lives-back-after-treatment.aspx#_edn4

      4 www.macmillan.org.uk/_images/people-of-working-age-with-cancer_tcm9-282791.pdf

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      account manager.