Today's San Francisco Chronicle has an article on post-traumatic stress among parents of children with cancer. The piece discusses the problem ("I feel fragile and vulnerable... I can't let my guard down," said one parent) and quotes Lucile Packard Children's Hospital psychiatrist Richard Shaw, MD, who has studied the mental health of parents of ill children:
...Shaw says that doctors have been "slow to tune into the issue of PTSD" in parents of children with cancer. His research on PTSD in parents of infants in intensive care, and a new study on whether "brief supportive psychotherapy" is helpful, may prove instructive for clinicians interacting with parents of children with cancer, he says.
Shaw believes social workers can play a key role in identifying parents who might have trouble coping with their child's illness. At Packard, the social workers screen families at admission and monitor them during their child's treatment and beyond. Those who seem most vulnerable are referred for psychiatric consultations early in the process.