Integrating mental health support in diabetes care works - so why is it not a national priority?

Posted On: 
3rd May 2019

Everyone affected by diabetes must have access to the support they need, when they need it, to help improve both their mental and physical health, and ultimately, their quality of life, says Diabetes UK.

Catherine McKinnell MP
Credit: 
Diabetes UK

There is an often undocumented two-way relationship between diabetes and emotional and psychological wellbeing. The relentlessness of managing the condition can affect how people feel and, in turn, struggling emotionally can make it even more difficult for people living with diabetes to manage the physical aspects.

Recent research suggests that people with long term physical health conditions like diabetes are two to three times more likely than the general population to have mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. Despite this, support for mental health all too often isn’t included as a routine, but vital, part of diabetes care.

This lack of support to cope with the demands of diabetes is leaving people feeling forgotten, isolated and alone. Mental health problems can lead to poorer health outcomes, reduced quality of life and increased healthcare costs.

Over 60 per cent of MPs already agree that people with diabetes should be offered mental health support to help them better manage and cope with the demands of their condition. Over 60 per cent also believe that there should be increased prioritisation of the mental health of those with physical long term conditions such as diabetes.

Evidence already exists to show that diabetes services that incorporate emotional and psychological support can help people improve both their physical and mental health, reduce pressure on services, and save the NHS money.

With 3.8 million people diagnosed with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in the UK, there is now a real and urgent need for all services to recognise that the condition impacts people’s mental health, and take action.

Now Diabetes UK is calling on government, the NHS, local decision makers, healthcare professionals, and people affected by diabetes, to work together to make sure this need is met. Integrating mental health support in diabetes care must be a national priority.

People with diabetes deserve care that sees and supports the whole person, based on their personal needs, experiences and circumstances. Everyone affected by the condition must have access to the support they need, when they need it, to help improve both their mental and physical health, and ultimately, their quality of life.

***On 14 May Diabetes UK will hold an event in parliament to launch a report looking at the links between diabetes and mental health and a petition to help make the case for emotional and mental health support in diabetes care.