Earlier this month YCE patient advocates Nicola Unterecker and Mariana Coutinho have been invited to
take part in a youth policy dialogue towards a comprehensive approach to mental health with
Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, in Brussels.
Nicki and Mariana shared their personal stories and highlight the struggles faced by young people living
with and beyond cancer, talking about loneliness, isolation, health anxiety, concerns about returning to
work, changes to family dynamics, and more, all the while emphasizing the need for free and specialized
mental health services for all young adults with cancer, before and after treatment.
Speaking at the event, Mariana shared her last year’s personal experience of loneliness and isolation
during cancer treatment, pointing out the absurdity of patients having to pay for mental health services
that should be free.
“I tried to seek the help of a psycho-oncologist in a public hospital, but I would have needed to wait for
several months, so I ended up paying out of pocket for private appointments”, stated Mariana.
She called on the European Commission “to improve access to mental health services, through funds
allocations and more innovative services” that would enable cancer patients and survivors across the EU
to receive appropriate and free mental health care.
“The fear of reoccurrence, depression, PTSD, isolation, body image issues due to changes caused by medications, loss and grief are daily struggles for many cancer fighters and survivors, including me. There are so many burdens on us already. Finding mental health support and being able to afford it should not be an additional one” said Nicola in her powerful intervention.