This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and it’s been both revealing and inspiring to see and hear so many stories from men living with prostate cancer who are also dealing with challenges to their mental health. Covid-19 has, in some cases, exacerbated this.
One of our patients, Perry Letcher, has written about his personal struggle with extraordinary honesty Perry was put on Active Surveillance by his consultant urologist last year and felt unable to cope with the realities of this form of treatment , experiencing anxiety that he found unable to control.
A recovered alcoholic, Perry had developed mental and emotional tools to overcome his personal challenges, and had a longstanding relationship with anxiety for which he had a battery of tried and tested tested coping mechanisms. But in his current state he couldn’t effectively manage the anxiety that stemmed from knowing he had cancer inside his body. His is a wonderfully open and honest story about how he felt and what he did about it.
Three pieces of research also came to light this week which address mental health challenges for men. First, a study of hormone therapy and its links to depression. We get calls all the time from men who , despite having prostate cancer, are fit, active and positive – but once they start this treatment their physical and mental state is seriously compromised. The study brings out how and why this happens.
Second is a study by Tackle Prostate Cancer, a UK-based charity.
It looks comprehensively at the mental health needs of cancer patients and how these are being met – in the case of prostate cancer, the research shows there is a long way to go in meeting the needs of patients.
Third, a survey by the Movember Foundation, which focuses on men’s health, which addressed the needs of men in discussing their concerns about anxieties brought on by Covid-19. They’ve developed a toolkit to help men and their colleagues with this, which seems like a great step forward.
Below is a link to each of these studies. Hopefully, 2020 will be the year of a step change in men talking about their mental health concerns with their partners and colleagues and, most of all, their doctors.