Mental Health Benefits Of a Wish

Wishes are more than a fun distraction.

There are multiple mental health benefits that impact a critically ill child’s physical and emotional well-being.


There are few things more terrifying than hearing your child has a life-threatening illness.

In the immediate aftermath of a serious diagnosis, many parents report feeling traumatized, stressed, and overwhelmed with the road ahead.

Although medical care is the best chance they have to see their child happy and well again, wish-granting organizations such as Make-A-Wish can play a vital role in their medical journey.

A recent survey of Wish Alumni, parents, and medical providers shows how significantly Wish Experience can impact the mental and emotional well-being of critically ill children.


Trauma Relief

It is so common to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTSD) due to a critical illness that there’s a name for it: post-intensive care syndrome.

But it isn’t just the patient that’s affected by PTSD and PICS; it’s the entire family.

For parents, grandparents, siblings, and other family members, watching a loved one suffer from a serious illness can be traumatizing. But Wish Experiences give families a much-needed lifeline to carry them through their darkest moments.

In fact, 98% of medical providers agree that Wish Experiences help relieve families’ traumatic stress from a child’s critical illness.


Emotional and Mental Well-being

When faced with a critical illness, even the bravest of children struggle to cope with the sudden changes to their health and daily life.

Unable to do the things they love, Wish Kids often report feeling sad, hopeless, and even lonely. Because of their illness, they hear the word “no” more times than they can count.

A Wish Experience, however, is a giant “YES”!

Ninety-five percent of Wish Parents report an improvement in their child’s emotional well-being throughout the wish process, and their doctors agree. All of the medical providers we spoke to said that Wish Experiences don’t just improve their patients’ well-being, but their own as well.

Wish Kid Super Cooper poses with first responders after saving the day!

Turning Point

Critical illnesses are more than just life-threatening, they are unrelenting, taking a huge toll on the body and the mind.

After a long fight, many children are physically and mentally exhausted and start to doubt that recovery is even possible. At this step in their journey, hope is exactly what they need the most.

In fact, studies continue to show that maintaining a positive outlook has a noticeable, measurable effect on physical health.

Granting a wish does more than just distract them for the moment, it acts as the turning point in their recovery.

Roughly 90% of medical providers said the Wish Experience made their patients more compliant with treatment and 94% of Wish Alumni said it made them feel more “joyful, confident, and hopeful” about their future.


Strength to Fight

Experts agree that a key part of happiness is having something to look forward to. But finding hope often seems impossible in the throes of a serious illness.

Being told where to go and what they can and can’t do often leaves critically ill children feeling like they have no control over their lives. Making a wish gives them a sense of control and empowers them to keep fighting.

From the moment they are referred to Make-A-Wish, our families have something to focus on that has nothing to do with surgeries, medical trials, or doctor’s appointments…just fun.

In fact, 80% of Wish parents have said that upcoming experiences were a vital coping mechanism during their child’s treatment and 87% of Wish Alumni said it gave them the strength they needed to keep fighting.

Wish Kid Avery getting kissed by a dolphin

Long-Term Impact

Even when a Wish Experience only lasts for a day, it has a positive impact that can last a lifetime.

Seven out of 10 doctors have said that Wish Experiences helped increase their patients’ odds of survival. In fact, the majority of Wish Kids are able to beat their illness and live happy, healthy lives.

Furthermore, 92% of Wish Alumni said the experience created unforgettable memories that helped bring their family closer together.


You Can Make Wishes Come True

Critically ill children deserve a distraction that allows them to experience the joy of childhood. But Wish Experiences have important mental health benefits as well.

By giving children a sense of empowerment—and something to look forward to—Make-A-Wish can play a significant role in a critically ill child’s long-term well-being.

If you know of a loved one who is currently battling a serious illness or life-threatening condition, Make-A-Wish needs your referral! Simply knowing that a wish is coming can often be the turning point in a child’s medical journey and improve their odds.