Distress Screening Provides Timely Detection of Mental Health Concerns

November 7, 2023
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Our CancerSupportSource distress screener and referral program aids in earlier detection of mental health needs among cancer patients.

The complexity of a cancer diagnosis can lead to tremendous psychological distress, threatening a patient’s mental well-being. Although conversations about mental health are advancing, there’s a critical need to recognize cancer as a risk factor for anxiety and depression. The strain of doctor visits and treatment that cancer patients endure put them at a heightened risk for developing a mental health disorder. 

The severity of a mental health disorder is not something to be neglected. Studies have found a two-fold risk among cancer patients of dying by suicide. (Heinrich, et al) In a study observing 465,000 cancer patients across 26 cancer types, researchers found that treatments involving surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy were the biggest risk factors for developing a mental health disorder. (Chang, et al) This staggering finding reveals the drastic need to develop comprehensive care and mental health support for cancer patients.


The Importance of Distress Screening Tools

Preventive measures are vital in both disease management and mental health treatment. Providing patients with mental health support and resources before the onset or progression of a mental health disorder lessens the burden of cancer. 

Distress screening tools are at the forefront of engineering comprehensive health services for cancer patients. We deliver validated mental health screening assessments to analyze the level of distress, depression, and anxiety in cancer patients in order to administer the best possible care. Our CancerSupportSource® (CSS) psychosocial distress screener and referral program, which includes depression and anxiety risk scales, is an excellent tool for earlier detection of mental health needs among cancer patients. CSS can help identify a patient’s individual areas of distress and unmet needs, with prompt referral to support resources that can help address those concerns and needs.

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Dynamic technology like My Care Report ― our digital mental health assessment and referral platform that includes CSS ― houses a variety of both proprietary and open-source, research-informed, patient-reported outcome measures delivered digitally with automated referral, resource, and acuity capabilities.

Without the technology to identify individuals who need mental health support, and without real-time actionable results, connecting patients with needed care is challenging if not possible. The proprietary distress screening tools we license are compatible with any EMR, allowing for efficient integration into any healthcare organization. 

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Advancements in distress screening are necessary as we seek to better understand and support people’s mental health needs after a cancer diagnosis. In turn, these learnings can help us develop more comprehensive solutions in supportive cancer care.