Lack of psychological support for people with diabetes
Around 85% of adults with diabetes in the UK lack access to specialist psychological support and care, according to a new report by leading health charity Diabetes UK.
Minding the Gap: The provision of psychological support and care for people with diabetes in the UK found that only 25% of diabetes services can actually name and supply contact details for people who provide specialist psychological care.
In almost half of those services there is only local generic mental health provision which is provided by professionals with no specific knowledge or experience in the area of diabetes.
There is consistent evidence of elevated rates of psychological problems in people with diabetes. Depression, which is doubled in people with the condition, and other psychological problems such as eating disorders and needle phobias lead to poor diabetes self-care, high blood glucose levels and subsequent medical complications such as blindness, heart disease, amputation, stroke and kidney failure.
However, it has been shown that treatment for psychological conditions can lead to reduced risk of these complications, improved blood glucose control and reductions in both psychological distress and overall healthcare costs.
The report also found diabetes services lack basic elements of care relating to psychological needs. Only one in 10 use any screening and assessment tools for psychological problems and almost 80% of services have no guidelines for referral of people with psychological problems.
Diabetes UK Head of Healthcare and Policy Bridget Turner said: "Living with diabetes can be challenging and the emotional stress of having to deal with this complex condition on a daily basis means specialist psychological services are crucial. People with diabetes need easy access to emotional support and some need more specific psychological support.
"Many psychiatric services in secondary care increasingly focus upon what has come to be known as 'severe mental illness' - in effect, psychotic conditions. The majority of people with diabetes who have significant psychological problems do not have severe mental illness and so need specialist diabetes, as opposed to generic, psychological help.
"The government also needs to address waiting times for psychological care. Only 28% of services can see routine patients within one month of referral and 17% of services declared their waiting time for routine cases to be in excess of three months. Such a delay in receiving help should not be acceptable in any modern healthcare system."
"How very true this is. I have battled for 51 years as a diabetic, worsened by healthcare professionals still not understanding or attempting to understand the basic rudiments of the illness. I fight depression with this condition on a daily basis. That aside, how does somebody live with a condition that at the end of the day is not curable? No amount of counselling is going to change that." - Chris Forest-Potter, Leicester