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One in six people with diabetes in Scotland experience emotional or mental health problems

Diabetes Scotland calling for increased provision of psychological support for people with diabetes.

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New research released today, World Diabetes Day, by Diabetes UK has found that the majority of people living with diabetes in Scotland experience emotional or mental health problems as a result of their condition.

In one of the largest surveys carried out by Diabetes UK, over 700 people of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds from across Scotland shared their experiences of living with diabetes today, and what their hopes and fears were for the future.

How diabetes affects emotional wellbeing stood out as a major factor for respondents, with almost 64 per cent saying that they often or sometimes feel down because of their diabetes. One third of respondents said that diabetes got in the way of them or a family member doing things they wanted to do. Alarmingly only 28 per cent of people said they definitely felt in control of their diabetes.

The research also found that 22 per cent of respondents in Scotland had used support or counselling from a trained professional to help them manage their diabetes, and just over 31 per cent had at some point relied on self-help materials including books, videos and resources found online.

Results of this research are included in Diabetes UK’s Future of Diabetes report, which is launching at an event today at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh. The charity is urging for increased provision of psychological support for people living with diabetes across Scotland.

Claire Fleming, Acting National Director at Diabetes Scotland, said:  “Diabetes affects more than 291,000 people in Scotland and is the fastest-growing health crisis of our time. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and lower limb amputations. This new research brings to light the isolation that can come from managing an invisible condition, and how living with diabetes can be detrimental to a person’s emotional wellbeing without the right support.

“Effective diabetes care requires that a person’s emotional needs are taken into account alongside their physical care needs. We want to see a system where specialist support – from people who understand diabetes – is made available to those who need it.

“In Scotland, we’d like to see increased availability of trained staff to meet the emotional and psychological needs of people living with diabetes. This should include core training in mental health skills for all healthcare professionals working in diabetes, including GPs and specialists. We also want to see more psychology staff with an expertise in diabetes who are routinely available within every diabetes team.”

Sports Biomedicine graduate Bruce Smith, age 23, lives in Glasgow has been living with Type 1 diabetes since he was a child. Bruce said: “Living with Type 1 diabetes can be really tough at times and it can get you down. There’s no day off from having diabetes and there’s not yet a cure so if you live with the condition you know it’s going to be with you day in day out for the rest of your life. So even when you’re feeling really fed up and want to forget all about it, you can’t.

“People who don’t know much about diabetes don’t understand just how much it affects you every day; the extra considerations you have to make before you do anything like go to the gym, go for a night out or have a late night study session. You have to always make sure you have the right amount of insulin and food for whatever you’re doing and you’re checking your blood sugar levels regularly. Some days it doesn’t matter what you do, your blood sugars can still go haywire and leave you feeling ill which is really frustrating.

“I think diabetes care needs to involve much more focus on psychological and emotional support. The condition needs to be treated holistically – looking at the whole person and not just the condition. Being able to talk about how you’re feeling with someone who understands can be really helpful in helping you manage your condition and live well.”

Bruce is participating in Diabetes Scotland’s YOUNG Leaders project which gives young people with Type 1 diabetes the opportunity to develop and deliver innovative youth-led solutions to gaps in support, information and services.

 

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