People with diabetes are being left to struggle with the emotional impact of the condition and too few are offered professional psychological support according to anew surveyby Diabetes UK.
The survey of 3,845 people with diabetes found that more than two thirds (68 per cent) of people who had needed psychological support said they had not received it.
This is a concern because the rate of depression is twice as high in people with diabetes than in the general population and levels of anxiety and eating disorders are also significantly higher. Depression in diabetes can lead to poorer diabetes self-care which can, in turn, lead to an increased risk of devastatingcomplicationssuch as blindness, stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and amputation. This means that giving more people access to appropriate emotional support could help the NHS save money by helping people to self-manage and reduce their risk of complications.
Access to emotional and psychological support is one of the15 Healthcare Essentialsthat Diabetes UK says every person with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes should have if they are assessed as needing it. The charity is calling for all Clinical Commissioning Groups, the local bodies responsible for healthcare in their areas, to make sure they are commissioning appropriate psychological support services.
Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Living with diabetes means never having a single day off from managing your condition and people with diabetes tell us that coping with your diabetes every hour of every day can be exhausting and stressful. Feeling isolated is also common in people with the condition. But getting the right emotional help can make a real difference and can improve people’s mental health as well as helping improve their physical health outcomes.
“GPs need to consider the emotional needs of people with diabetes as part of personal care planning and they should ask people how they are feeling because this that can open the door for people being able to get more professional support. But this will only happen if appropriate services are commissioned and available.”
Karen, 34, from Plymouth, says she is struggling to cope with her diabetes: “My GP is fantastic and referred me in October 2013 to receive specialist psychological support, but 14 months later I’m still waiting. For years I didn’t even know that getting this help was an option but even though it is technically available I’m up against a long waiting list. My GPs want to help and are doing their very best but I can see the situation is beyond their control. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was six and have had episodes of clinical depression and anxiety since I was 13, but I’ve never had any mental support for my diabetes. My diabetes has caused me to become partially sighted and I have been in hospital three times in the past three years because of issues with my pump. I definitely feel I need more help.”