The NeedThe National Registry of Disease Office estimates that there are about 13,000 individuals and their families affected by cancer in Singapore. Currently, the focus of psychosocial care provided by different organizations in the context of cancer has been on the patient itself and thus the needs of caregivers and other family members are often neglected or left unattended. On this matter, a recent survey conducted amongst cancer caregivers in Singapore found lower overall levels of quality of life compared overseas with areas of concern including psychological burden, life interference, helplessness and social support amongst others (Mahendran et al. 2013).
As a result of the experience of family separations and disruption of daily routines, children of cancer patients tend to have decreased social contact with important sources of emotional and social support (Barrera et al., 2004). This, in addition to the complex – and sometimes challenging – psychological developmental processes they are undertaking at their school-age and adolescence, makes of these children and teens a high risk group for the development of psychological problems as a result of a cancer event in their family circle (Murray 2000). Regarding this, evidence has shown greater levels of reported low self-esteem amongst these children compared to control groups, and has suggested they are at increased risk for internalizing type problems such as depressive or anxious mood states (Osborn, 2007).
Although initiatives providing psychosocial support to this group (specifically in the context of peer support camps) are still absent in Singapore, research conducted on initiatives in other places around the globe such as Camp Onwards in Australia (Sidhu et al., 2006) and Camp Okizu in the USA (Packman et al., 2004) have shown improved mental health outcomes that were sustained at follow-up amongst participants.