Long-term hospitalization can take a mental and emotional toll. According to Harvard University, child development is shaped by early experiences in life, so it is important that the mental health of children be of first importance. This is even more crucial for children with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, that takes an added emotional toll on children and their families.
The Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Institute at MemorialCare Miller Children's & Women's Hospital Long Beach offers psychosocial programs that help patients and their families learn how to cope with the physical and emotional aspects of childhood cancer and serious blood disorders. These programs help bring a sense of familiarity and bond between patients and the health care team and ensures that patients and their families receive support.
Every year, more than 800 children are treated at Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute. While their physical illnesses are addressed, it’s important to not lose sight of the emotional aspects of healing—they are connected.
The psychosocial programs play a significant role in every child’s journey during treatment. These programs are put in place to support patients and their families in every step of the process, from diagnosis to outpatient care. These programs include:
Art therapy has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress in children by giving them an opportunity to address fears and concerns that are challenging to express into words. This program can be provided as a one-time session or in multiple sessions depending on the patient’s needs.
Child Life Specialists
Child Life Specialists prepare children for hospitalization or procedures through medical play—where they can learn about their treatment and give them a sense of control and awareness in a time of uncertainty. In addition, child life specialists use distraction techniques, such as playroom time and special visitors, to take their mind away from stress and worry and allow them the opportunity to focus on being a kid.
The Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute’s team of psychologists provides consultation, crisis intervention, psychotherapy and family support for patients and their families during hospital admissions and on an outpatient basis. Their services help patients, parents and siblings understand and work through their emotions in positive ways. They also help patients with educational services including comprehensive neuropsychological testing and specialized education plans to help with acute and late effects and reintegration when they are ready to return to school.
Miller Children’s & Women’s social workers provide patient and families guidance and access to outpatient programs, counseling, support groups and community resources. They are a support system for families during their stay at Miller Children’s & Women’s to ensure they don’t feel alone.
The Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute ensures children and their families get the emotional and mental support they need while getting treated.