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Website to Support Young People With Cancer

17 October 2014 at 2:56 pm
Xavier Smerdon
Youth cancer charity CanTeen has launched what it says is the world’s first website specifically designed to support young people affected by cancer.

Xavier Smerdon | 17 October 2014 at 2:56 pm


Website to Support Young People With Cancer
17 October 2014 at 2:56 pm

Youth cancer charity CanTeen has launched what it says is the world’s first website specifically designed to support young people affected by cancer.

CanTeen CEO Peter Orchard said the Online Support Platform sets an international benchmark with its unique combination of seven-day access to professional CanTeen counsellors and 24/7 access to youth-specific information and an online community where young people can connect with peers in similar situations and share their cancer experiences through blogs, forums and testimonials.  

"Every year, another 23,000 young Australians have their world turned upside down by cancer, whether they've been diagnosed themselves or whether it's their parent, brother or sister," Orchard said.

"While we can only reach a small proportion of them with our face to face services, the new online support platform has the potential to provide life-changing support to every single young person who needs help on their cancer journey – that's 50,000 young people over the next two years.”

Orchard said the website was born out of research indicating the need for peer support for young people dealing with cancer.

"CanTeen research shows that young people dealing with cancer are five to six times more likely to develop mental health issues like anxiety and depression,” he said.

"Having instant peer and professional support available seven days a week – from anywhere in Australia – will combat the main triggers of psychological distress, which include feelings of isolation and a lack of information about what their cancer journey will involve.

"Our specially trained counsellors truly understand the physical, emotional and practical impact of living with cancer and will be available over extended hours via instant messaging, email or phone.”

Shadow Federal Minister for Health Katherine King welcomed the announcement of the new online tool.

“CanTeen is a superb organisation and Labor has been proud to support this wonderful organisation both in, and out of government,” King said.

“I congratulate CanTeen for launching this online platform which will offer young people struggling with the effects of cancer professional support seven days a week from anywhere in Australia.”

CanTeen's Online Support Platform was officially launched by Senator the Hon Scott Ryan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, on behalf of the Hon Peter Dutton, Minister for Health.

The Australian Government, through the Department of Health, provided almost $2 million to support the development of the online platform as part of the E-Mental Health Strategy.

Designed by young people living with cancer, it is hoped the platform will be particularly beneficial for teenagers and young adults in regional or remote Australia who have previously had to travel to meet other young people or a counsellor face-to-face.

In order to promote the online support platform to young people and their families, CanTeen will also launch the CanTeen Keys campaign today.

Developed by Behaviour Change Partners, the campaign aims to put CanTeen in the hands of young people living with cancer by providing them with a key-shaped USB that contains a video explaining the platform and linking them directly to it.

Given that 21,000 of the 23,000 young people affected by cancer each year are dealing with a parent's cancer, CanTeen Keys will initially be delivered to cancer nurses working with adult cancer patients who have children aged 12-24.

"Teenagers and young adults have both the greatest need for effective mental health care while also typically being the least likely to seek help," Peter Orchard said.

"We also know that a huge concern for parents diagnosed with cancer is how to tell their children and how to support them at a time when they themselves are in immense turmoil.

"That's why we're equipping nurses with CanTeen Keys, a practical tool that simultaneously helps nurses, helps parents and helps young people deal with the enormous impact that cancer has on their life.”

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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