Mental health in children

Mental health in children with cancer, chronic disease and the impacts to the family

Children are precious to the parents and all family  member. They are individuals with innocent expressions who could easily win our heart. However growing up, some children may face some medical health.  When disease is chronical and severe, it may needs our attention in term of physicological issue.

One of common example is children with cancer.  Children with cancer are growing up facing white-coats, intense treatment, painful procedures which are not convinient for them. They need to stay days in hospital, which prevent them from having social interaction with their friends. They face problems in school because they are left behind. These are stressors for the children mental health.

Young children with chronic and severe disease are facing tough situation, yet their verbal expression and cognitive function are still limited and not fully developed.  These wil somehow affect the way the cope to the heavy situation according to their age and capability. However if they fail to adjust, then problems such as depression, anxiety will arrise. Eiser (2000) stated that 25-35% children with cancer will suffer from psikosocial problems.  Young adult will more likely suffers from identity crisis, depression,and inferiority complex  (Reiter-Purtill J et al 2003).  Sadly, the mental health does affect its physical health, yet  many doctors or parents were unaware to the situation and merely focus on physical problems.

Not only  to the sick children, but the stressors are affecting the family. Parents become anxious and worry to the children’s health, side-effects of treatment, the future, and many more.  Sick children needs psychotherapy such as: game stimulation, mindfulness-cognitive behavior therapy, while parents needs group supports, counselling and education, in how to cope with the situation.

In conclusion, intervention is necessary to improve the quality of life in children with chronical disease and to reduce its negative impact to the family.


Tjhin Wiguna

Child and adolescent physchiatrist.

Article is written for MAIN foundation



Richard J. Shaw and David R. DeMaso. Clinical manual of pediatric psychosomatic medicine. Mental health consultation with physically ill childeen and adolescent.  American Psychiatric Publishing. 2006

Eiser C, Hill JJ, Vance YH. Examining the psychological consequences of surviving childhood cancer: systematic review as a research method in pediatric psychology. J Pediatr Psychol. 2000;6:449-60.

Reiter-Purtill J, Vannatta K, Gerhardt CA, Correll J, Noll RB. A controlled longitudinal study of the social functioning of children who completed treatment of cancer. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2003;25:467-73.