Prostate News

Strong demand for prostate cancer counselling service: supporting men at risk of mental distress

Categories: Latest News,Medical,Prostate Matters

News Release
30 September 2022

Strong demand for prostate cancer counselling service: supporting men at increased risk of mental distress

As Mental Health Awareness Week and Blue September draw to a close, Peter Dickens, CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation is keen to make sure New Zealand men living with prostate cancer, and at risk of increased mental distress, know that free counselling and support is available to them 24/7 via the Prostate Cancer Foundation Counselling Service.

In 2021, the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCFNZ) partnered with leading mental health and wellbeing provider, Raise, to assist men affected by a prostate cancer diagnosis. The service provides comprehensive support, from a network of counsellors and psychologists in times of emotional distress.

“To date the service has assisted 42 men who without access to this support, may not have had a positive outcome. The service uses counsellors who are educated on prostate cancer and can provide support to men living with the disease,” says Dickens.

Raise counsellor Claire Gard previously worked for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and brings a unique insight into the scale of the disease and the impact it has on men and their families.

“Many men, and their whānau, struggle with their mental health and emotional wellbeing while they are on their prostate cancer journey. There are a whole host of challenges that affect mental wellbeing and resilience of men when they are diagnosed, undergoing treatment, or living with the disease. With men living with prostate cancer as much as four times more likely to die by suicide, making sure a support service is available them to them is critical,” says Gard.

“When someone suffers from a serious disease, they can benefit greatly from counselling as it enables them to express their feelings in a private, safe setting with a qualified specialist,” adds Gard.

“Two of the most common side effects of prostate cancer treatment are urinary problems and erectile dysfunction. Both can have a significant impact on a patient’s emotional wellbeing. Side effects from treatment such as low energy can also have an impact. Other side effects from treatment or medications can cause symptoms of aggressive behaviours, tiredness, stress, forgetfulness, anxiety, lack of motivation, or anger – all of which can be out of character and challenging to deal with. Add to this the financial burden of reduced work hours or privately funding treatment, and a stressed emotional state is not an uncommon outcome.”

Dickens adds that prostate cancer is not just a challenge to an individual, but to whānau and others close to them. The diagnosis has an impact on their partner, family and loved ones and sometimes the strain can have an adverse effect on these relationships, which in turn may impact recovery.

According to Gard the Prostate Cancer Foundation Counselling Service can make all the difference.

“Counselling after a prostate cancer diagnosis has several advantages. In the beginning, it’s about helping people accept the prostate cancer diagnosis and what it means for them personally. Counselling can increase their sense of empowerment and quality of life. Additionally, counselling can lower any stress or anxiety and enhance their overall wellbeing,” says Gard. “I’ve spoken to men who feel they have lost their sense of manhood, their relationships have suffered and they are depressed. With counselling we have re-established their sexuality and sense of self, their relationships have been rejuvenated and their mental health and overall wellbeing greatly improved.”

Prostate Cancer Foundation Counselling Service provides free, confidential counselling support delivered to individuals in person, on the phone or online via video service in the way that best suits them. All practitioners are registered professionals with a minimum of five years of practice experience. The range of support available covers, trauma, grief and loss, relationship support, wellbeing support, anxiety, and mood.

For support contact Raise on 0800 735 343, or complete the contact form at