Research has shown that almost 25% of people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year
1. This is a shocking statistic, and sadly, it seems to be on the rise. That's why it's more important than ever to speak up and take action.
For anyone diagnosed with a long-term illness, mental health problems are all too common, and we know that those with a brain tumour are no different.
In fact, a heart-wrenching 91% say their tumour has affected their emotional or mental health.2
This must change.
Our goal is to not only double survival from brain tumours, but halve the harm they have, and that includes mental health.
Using our Life with a Brain Tumour publications, we're highlighting the need to improve the physical, mental, emotional and financial impact of a brain tumour and have an array of support services to help everyone affected by a brain tumour, including family, friends and carers.
What is mental health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Those affected by a mental health condition may find themselves struggling to cope with day-to-day life, including things we take for granted such as getting out of bed, showering and leaving the house. If you find yourself feeling this way, you should seek advice from a medical professional, such as your GP.
One issue particularly prevalent within our community, and across the UK, is depression. You can find out more about this in our depression factsheet.
One of the biggest factors that can affect your mental health is feelings of isolation, and for those affected by a brain tumour, isolation is an all too common problem.
Brain tumours are the only types of tumour that directly impact on personality, behaviour, cognition and communication — the essential features of individual identity.
They can also lead to an inability to work, which increases feelings of isolation, identity loss and depression.
Maintaining healthy relationships
A brain tumour can also lead to a negative impact upon relationships with partners, family members and friends, worsening the issue of isolation.
To help you, we've created resources to help friends, individuals and partners during this difficult diagnosis:
“Working created my identity and that has gone, leaving me empty and invaluable."
60 year-old man with a high grade tumour
Many people find that taking up a new hobby, increasing their exercise (even just regular short walks) and volunteering are great ways of building their self-esteem, reducing isolation and improving their feelings of self-identity and value.
We recently launched a video, created with our Young Ambassadors, which highlights the stark reality of living with a brain tumour and the negative impact it can have upon friendship, self-confidence and socialisation.
A brain tumour diagnosis is a life changing event, not just for the individual themselves, but for the friends and family around them.
It can be incredibly difficult to watch someone you love go through this devastating disease. Sometimes it's hard to know how to help and what to say.
However, it isn't just the emotional impact of a brain tumour that can lead to enhanced feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression. Everything from work and finances to your living situation can be changed as a result of a brain tumour diagnosis, with 3 in 4 people having their/their partner's working life affected and 1 in 2 experiencing financial difficulty.
Over time this can result in increased feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression for family and friends.
It can also increase stress for those affected and their relationships. Stress is a key factor in mental health issues and is the main focus of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May 2018).
If you're a carer for someone diagnosed with a brain tumour, it can become overwhelming at times, and can have a huge effect on your emotional well-being and mental health. To help you during difficult times we have resources to help carers to get support, whether that be financial, emotional or practical, and to find information and self-care tips. View the resource.
How can we help?
We have a variety of support services available to help everyone cope with a brain tumour diagnosis, find information, and talk about any issues or concerns.
From our Understanding brain tumours web pages and factsheets, to our Information and Support line, we're here to help in any way we can.
Looking to talk and connect with others who understand your situation? You can join our online Facebook groups. For those diagnosed, carers or friends and family, our Facebook groups provide safe spaces to talk through issues, share experiences and receive vital support during difficult times.
Who else can I talk to?
First and foremost, it's important to talk to the people you trust about how you're feeling. It's also important that you discuss your mental health with your GP, as they can provide critical support and guidance during this time. While The Brain Tumour Charity cannot recommend any specific resources, you may find these organisations and publications helpful:
A 24 hour helpline with trained people who can listen to you when you need someone to talk to. Email: email@example.com Tel: 116 123 (UK and ROI) Website: Samaritans.org
Saneline SANE's mental health helpline is a national, out-of-hours service offering emotional support and information every day. Tel: 0300 304 7000 (6pm -11pm) Website: sane.org.uk
MIND MIND is a mental health organisation that provides support and information. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0300 123 3393 (09.00-18.00, Mon-Fri) Text: 86463
Depression Alliance Depression Alliance is a charity that works to prevent depression and offers information and support to people affected by depression: depressionalliance.org Email: email@example.com Tel: 0207 407 7584
Niamh Wellbeing (Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health) A network of support services throughout Northern Ireland supporting mental wellbeing: Tel: 028 9032 8474 Website: niamhwellbeing.org
Carers UK Provides information and support for carers: www.carersuk.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Carersline: 0808 808 7777 (10am-4pm, Mon-Fri) Website: carersuk.org
A cancer patient's guide to overcoming depression: Getting through treatment and getting back to your life Authors: Derek R. Hopko and Carl W. Lejuez New Harbinger Publications, 2008 ISBN 13 978 157224504-4
Living with the black dog: How to cope when your partner is depressed Author: Caroline Carr White Ladder Press Ltd, 2007 ISBN 13 9781905410101
1 McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care.