Plus-one mental health program to boost wellbeing for women with breast cancer

01 Nov 2021
Plus-one mental health program to boost wellbeing for women with breast cancer

Be Well Co, SAHMRI’s first spin-off company, involving researchers Matthew Iasiello and Joep Van Agteren, is collaborating with University of Adelaide cancer Research Fellow, Dr Hannah Wardill, to create a new initiative giving women with breast cancer the opportunity to heal side by side with a loved one through a hands-on mental health and wellbeing program.

The 5-week Be Well Plan will be delivered in person to a group of 60 Adelaide women living with or beyond breast cancer, who’ve been experiencing diminished quality of life.

Dr Wardill says consumers have voiced the desire for a program that brings patients and family together to boost communication and healing.

“There’s often a lot of support for people while they’re in the middle of treatment; but once their active treatment ends there’s an expectation to get back to “normal”, leaving many feeling lost, alone and sometimes in fear of the cancer returning. Cumulatively, this can significantly impact their wellbeing,” Dr Wardill said.

Adding to the struggle is the fact that loved ones can be at a loss when it comes to knowing how to provide support in a way that person will be receptive to.

Half of the participants will be joined every step of the way by a partner or family member.

The other half will go through it alone, allowing researchers to gauge the wellbeing benefit of teamwork.

Those involved must report levels of psychological distress or low wellbeing prior to the program, in order to take part.

“It’s not unusual for those at the back end of cancer treatment to have developed psychological symptoms of distress but not to the extreme of having clinical depression or diagnosed anxiety,” Dr Wardill said.

“We’re finding there are many who exist in the grey area who are struggling but don’t have access to the support they need. That’s the gap we’re aiming to help bridge.”

The program is set to launch in early 2022 and has potential to be adopted more broadly if successful.

Interested in being part of this study?

Register here