Mind Over Cancer hopes to support 1,250 people within the next 12 months and has unveiled an initial £50,000 fundraising target to help deliver its services.
Set-up by experts who have treated and supported children, teenagers and young adults diagnosed with cancer, the team said it spotted the lack of mental health provision through the NHS for those diagnosed when young.
Mind Over Cancer enables anyone diagnosed with cancer from a baby to 29 years-old to have access to 10 free counselling sessions and a Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Programme for one year.
Support is also extended to the patient’s family, friends and partners as all can be negatively affected by a diagnosis, with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety often experienced.
Sessions are delivered online or over the phone rather than face-to-face to enable support to be actioned quicker and is managed by JHD Counselling. Counselling can be one-to-one as well as couples therapy if requested and will be matched carefully depending on the individual’s needs.
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Programme is a monthly group support, designed to teach, share and support the mental health of family, friends and partners affected by someone close to them who was diagnosed or died of cancer when they were young.
Susie Shaw, founder and chief executive of Mind Over Cancer, said: “The NHS does a brilliant job medically treating cancer patients but is under-resourced, with immense demand and pressure placed on them which has only been exacerbated due to the pandemic.
“Mind Over Cancer has been set-up to bridge the gap, providing immediate mental health support through our counselling and Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Programme.
“A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, not just for the person who has to face it but also for their family and friends who are there through the highs and lows. This trauma can stay through life, affecting all areas of their personal and working life and we are here to provide a safe space and additional emotional support.”
Mind Over Cancer will work with other mental health and cancer charities to identify individuals and their families and friends who need support. However, self-referrals can also be made via its website.
The charity’s long-term future ambition is to expand outside of East Anglia and offer the same mental health support to other counties across England and eventually become nationwide, opening up in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
To reach Mind Over Cancer’s target of supporting 1,250 people across East Anglia within the next 12 months, the charity is asking local communities, businesses, individuals and charitable trusts and foundations to consider donating and fundraising for them to help reach its initial £50,000 fundraising target.
The charity is also calling for volunteers who can help fundraise and spread the word.