Doctors are being urged to screen cancer patients for mental health problems.
According to the Institute of Medicine, cancer care providers are looking for better ways to treat patients clinically, but are overlooking their emotional needs. Doctors say that simply isn't true. In fact they say as Oncologist they assume all aspects of care including both physical and mental, and they don't think it's fair to say they neglect the mental health issue. They also say they deal with depression and anxiety on a regular basis as part of the treatment they provide and if necessary mental referrals are made.
"We do focus on the physical aspect of their care because the first thing we're trying to is save their life and get rid of the cancer and then we'll deal with the other issues later," said Dr. Vance Esler, a local Oncologist.
But, if cancer patients and their families are looking for help coping with the life threatening disease, Harrington Cancer Center provides several mental health services to their patients.
"Counseling, as well as support groups, as well as expressive therapy which include music therapy, art therapy a lot of those services that help patients deal with the emotional aspects of cancer." said Stan McKeever a Social Worker at Harrington Cancer Center.
MckKever also says a lot of focus is placed on the family.
"We have a weekly group to talk about topics of interest to cancer patients. We talk about community resources, coping skills."
Sharri Miller the Clinical Educator says education is key because it helps lessen the anxiety.
"It really is the single most important aspect of the whole treatment is the education. We you're educated you have some power back and it empowers you to continue to learn more more on how to take care of yourself and how your family can help take care of you."
The American Cancer Society says the following agencies in the Amarillo area can help with counseling:
Amarillo College Adult Services and Women's Programs 371-5447
Amarillo Speech, Hearing and Language Center 359-7681
American Cancer Society Support Groups 353-4306
Bethesda Ministry Center 381-0361
Catholic Family Services 376-4571
Panhandle Counseling Services 355-4548
Samaritan Pastoral Counseling Service 353-1668
Samaritan Outreach 374-4132
Suicide Prevention/Crisis Intervention 359-6699