A new leaflet, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, to raise awareness about the impact of depression on cancer patients has been launched by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, and supported by Macmillan Cancer Support.
Dr Gerry Millar, Macmillan GP Facilitator in Cancer and Palliative Care, has led the development of an information leaflet for patients and carers to help them identify the symptoms of depression and to signpost them to the many treatments and support available.
Dr Millar, who is also a practising GP based in Moy, works with the Trust in the Macmillan Cancer Unit supporting the work of staff in the dedicated outpatients unit through developing close links with GPs across the Trust area.
“Up to a third of patients with a cancer diagnosis may experience clinical depression, adding to an already difficult time for patients and their carers so it is vitally important that GPs recognise depression as a condition that can sometimes be hidden behind the cancer diagnosis, but which needs to be identified and treated as a separate condition.
“Treating depression in patients with a cancer diagnosis can help them cope better with their treatments and improve their overall health.
“For carers too, managing a loved one who has cancer can be a challenging time and we need to make sure that they are encouraged and supported to look after their own health,” explained Gerry.
Barbara Bailie is a service user involved in the development of the resource, who said: “For me recovery from cancer was as much about healing my mind as well as my body. Access to information is vital when managing a cancer diagnosis including information about mental health and wellbeing.”
Chief Executive of the Southern Trust, Mairead McAlinden, said: “This is a very important addition to information for cancer patients. The work led by Gerry and involving, mental health, cancer support services and promoting wellbeing will make a difference to patients and carers and will raise awareness amongst GPs of this important issue. It’s also important that patients can access specialist support in the community.”
Paula Kealey, Senior Development Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support said: “I am delighted to see the development of this excellent resource which will not only help to increase awareness of the impact of a cancer diagnosis on an individual’s psychological and mental state but also assist in earlier identification of symptoms ensuring appropriate and timely treatment and care”