Finding Support with Your Physical and Mental Health
- Singer and mental health advocate Jewel Kilcher, 49, helped co-found a virtual mental health app to help increase access to mental health services. Her experience battling anxiety helped fuel her passion for mental health advocacy.
- Mental health is a wide-ranging condition going unmet, particularly among breast cancer patients. Throughout October, SurvivorNet will collaborate with breast cancer survivor Laura Morton, whose film, “Anxious Nation” explores the nation’s mental health crisis. The idea is to “screen your mind and body.”
- Research published in Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences found that “35 to 40 percent of cancer patients have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder,” patients battling late-stage cancer tend to face even more significant mental health challenges.
- Anxiety is triggered by many stressors, such as a diagnosis or the fear that your cancer will return. Experts tell SurvivorNet that tips for coping with anxiety may include finding hobbies that bring you joy or rationally managing your extreme thoughts.
Singer and actress Jewel Kilcher, 49, continues to prioritize widening mental health access through the “Innerworld” app she helped found.
“Accessibility is critical…It cannot be just for the wealthy who can afford a therapist,” Kilcher told People, stressing the importance of connecting as many people as possible to mental health support.Read More
According to Mental Health America, “56% of adults with a mental illness receive no treatment, and over 27 million individuals experiencing a mental illness are going untreated.”
While millions of people have unmet mental health needs, the need for mental health resources is even greater among cancer patients and their families.
Research published in Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences found that “35 to 40 percent of cancer patients have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder,” and the number of people experiencing mental health challenges is “higher among cancer patients with advanced stages of cancer and in palliative care settings.”
WATCH: Laura Morton and Joan Lunden share Joan’s experience with cancer.
To help close the gap surrounding this critical issue, SurvivorNet is collaborating with filmmaker and breast cancer survivor Laura Morton to help bring added mental health resources to cancer patients during breast cancer awareness month. Morton’s film, “Anxious Nation,” highlights the impact mental health challenges can have on people facing cancer and chronic disease.
Helping You Manage Your Mental Health
WATCH: SN & You Presents Mental Health: Coping With Emotions
Jewel’s Journey Turned Her Hardship Into Purpose
Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and behave. Certain triggers like stress, traumatic events, or changes in your physical health can affect your mental health.
Before Kilcher became an award-winning musician, she dealt with many traumas as a young adult. She told People during a previous interview she moved out of her childhood home at age 15.
“I didn’t want to be a statistic, but there was really no safety net for someone like me. I didn’t have money for therapy or traditional help. I didn’t even really have a family system that would support me or could,” Kilcher explained.
Her personal experience with mental health, which includes panic attacks and anxiety, was often the source of inspiration for her songs. The cause also became part of her life’s purpose. She co-founded the “Innerworld” app alongside Noah Robinson, a clinical psychology doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University.
WATCH: Managing anxiety in stressful times.
“When you log into ‘Innerworld,’ you go into your own private living room, and then you enter a portal where there’s a community center around the fire pit, and there’s people from all over the world hanging out in a safe, supported environment,” Kilcher said.
She explains that the virtual mental health app also supports users in managing anxiety and living with illnesses like cancer.
A cancer diagnosis often impacts your mental health, so if you find yourself in this situation, keeping tabs on your mental health is important.
An Anxious Nation Bravely Battling Anxiety
Laura Morton is a best-selling author, a TV producer, and a mother who bravely battled breast cancer. She’s used her experience with the disease to help others cope, especially emotionally. Her breast cancer journey began shortly after publishing the book with Lunden when she discovered a lump.
“I know for sure that if I had not written Joan’s book, I would not have paid as close attention to the lump,” Morton tells SurvivorNet.
She was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in Situ (DCIS), which means the cancer is confined to the breast milk duct. While the prognosis for cancer at such an early stage tends to be good, the unexpected diagnosis still took Morton by surprise and even spooked her daughter. Cancer had impacted Morton’s family prior to her diagnosis because her mom passed away at age 35 from the disease.
“My daughter began to worry that I might die. I did take my daughter to see our family therapist, where we assured her that not all mommies get cancer and not all mommies die,” Morton said.
Morton’s personal experience helped inspire her documentary “Anxious Nation” with executive producer Kathy Ireland.
“I was sitting at my desk, feeling incredibly defeated as a parent,” Morton said, reflecting on the anxiety her diagnosis had caused her and her daughter.
After a diagnosis, Morton turned to social media to learn how other women cope with anxiety. She was stunned to learn so many people were in the same position as her. The voluminous response prompted her to begin producing the film.
“Anxious Nation” explores how mental and physical health collide: “Just as you have to navigate your cancer journey, you have to navigate your mental health journey,” Morton explains.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you find yourself struggling with a diagnosis or helping a loved one cope with their emotions, consider asking your doctor the following questions:
- How can I go about improving my outlook/mental health?
- Are there any activities I can do to encourage positive feelings?
- When should I seek other interventions if I’m still struggling?
- What are the steps to finding a different therapist if the one I’m using is not working out?