Having cancer may mean you feel cut off from your community, friendships and other support. Family and friends may have withdrawn, as it is not easy for some to talk about this subject and you may feel as though you have lost social contacts, interests and social activities. One way to connect to other people who are in a similar situation to you is by joining a support group.
Many people who join a support group feel:
- A sense of belonging
- A sense of community
- As though they are not alone
- Accepted and supported
- As though they are being cared for
- Safe to express their feelings and fears.
This does not necessarily mean you have to go to a meeting. Linking to a support group network may suit you best.
There are other forms of support available to you. Under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), people who have a chronic medical condition (e.g. cancer) and who need a multidisciplinary approach are able to access the following services: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner, Aboriginal health worker, audiologist, chiropractor, diabetes educator, dietician, exercise physiologist, mental health worker, occupational therapist, osteopath, physiotherapist, podiatrist, psychologist, speech pathologist (see www.health.gov.au).
Specifically relating to mental health, also through the MBS, the Better Access initiative allows you to get Medicare rebates for selected mental health services offered by GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, and eligible social workers and occupational therapists (see www.health.gov.au/mentalhealth-betteraccess).