Health Study Finds 51% of Diabetes Patients Suffer Mental Health Issues

An independent study of people living with type 1 and 2 diabetes, by Censuswide, commissioned by Ieso Digital Health, the UK’s leading provider of online therapy highlights the scale of mental health problems affecting those living with this chronic condition.

  • Around 700 people get diagnosed with diabetes every day in the UK. That’s the equivalent of one person every two minutes.
  • Three quarters (75%) of young adults (16-34) believe that their mental health has been negatively affected by their diabetes.
  • Almost half (46%) say that more awareness of diabetes-specific mental health issues would help prevent high levels of stress, anxiety and depression and other mental health problems, associated with having diabetes.
  • 43% say mental health education and assessment should be integrated into on-going diabetes health care.

This study, compiled by Ieso Digital Health, the UK’s largest provider of online CBT, shows that people living with diabetes are more likely to experience mental health problems compared with the general population. About one in four adults in the UK will suffer from a mental health condition each year ii;however, the Ieso study found that over half of patients with diabetes (51%) have sought treatment for stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. Three quarters (75%) of young adults (16-34) believe their mental health has been negatively affected by their diabetes.

According to Sarah Bateup, Chief Clinical Officer, Ieso Digital Health,

“Mental health should be considered an integral part of on-going diabetes care.  We need to ensure a multifaceted approach including comprehensive assessment for mental health problems, educating patients to recognise stress and mental health problems and encouraging self‐care. Providing effective mental health interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help patients to address the emotional and behavioural aspects of living with a life-long condition such as diabetes.”

Mental health issues can make it more difficult for diabetes sufferers to alter their diet and lifestyle to comply with medical treatment programmes.

Mental health issues linked to diabetes include feelings of loss, stress, anger, panic attacks, mood disorders, depression, anxiety and eating disorders. A depressed person is less likely to adhere to their diabetes medication or monitoring regimens which are necessary for effective management of diabetes, resulting in poor glycaemic control. Phobic symptoms or anxieties related to self-injection of insulin and self-monitoring of blood glucose are common, resulting in further emotional distress. Stress and depression are known to elevate blood glucose levels, even if medication is taken regularly.

Almost half (46%) of people believe that better awareness would help detect stress and mental health issues, while 43% think discussions of mental health within diabetes-specific appointments would help and that clearer advice from medical bodies would help.

Insurance Edge Comment;

Insurers and brokers working with large companies and organisations within the public sector should take note of studies like this on diabetes, the menopause, or stress related illness in general. A failure in an employer’s duty of care, which may lead to an incident in the workplace might be a rare occurence, but a potentially high profile case, with high claims costs in the longer term.

Insisting that companies identify medical conditions and offer various types of therapy and support should be standard practice of course, but insurers need to be ever aware of the latest treatments and monitoring of conditions such as diabetes, which affect an ever increasing percentage of the UK population.

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