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Calls for mental health support for people living with diabetes

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman (centre) with Diabetes Scotland campaigners inside Scottish Parliament. Image credit: Diabetes Scotland

Calls for mental health support for people living with diabetes

Campaigners have met with MSPs to demand better mental health support for people living with diabetes.

Coinciding with World Diabetes Day on Thursday, Diabetes Scotland has called for better support “around the emotional and mental health impacts of the condition”, with campaigners from across Scotland travelling to the Scottish Parliament to share their experiences.

The campaigners met with Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman and party leaders Patrick Harvie, Richard Leonard, Jackson Carlaw and Willie Rennie.

Diabetes Scotland national director Angela Mitchell said there was “an urgent and real need” for health services to recognise the demand that diabetes can have on people’s mental health.

The organisation is calling for the creation of national standards to ensure that every person living with diabetes can get access to emotional and psychological support as a routine part of their diabetes care.

“Services that include emotional and psychological support can not only improve people’s mental wellbeing, but their physical health and quality of life,” Mitchell said.

“When diabetes cannot be well-managed, the risk of dangerous complications, such as amputations, kidney failure and stroke, increases.”

The latest Scottish Diabetes Survey found there were more than 300,000 people in Scotland living with diabetes. Mitchell said, while the survey detailed the delivery of diabetes care, there was nothing to measure mental health.

“While we’re lucky to have such data in Scotland, a glaring omission is a measure of emotional wellbeing of people living with the condition. People are more than the numbers on their blood glucose reading,” she said.

“We have to bridge the divide between physical and mental health services for people with diabetes to ensure that those in Scotland affected by this relentless condition can access the support they need, when they need it. It is possible as we know there are areas of good practice in Scotland. 

“We must learn from these examples and share across the country. Emotional and mental health cannot continue to be missing.”

A Diabetes Scotland petition, signed by 2,300 people, was presented to the parliament on Thursday.

Responding to the calls for support, Freeman said: “Mental health is an absolute priority for this government and that’s why we are spending a further £250 million over the next five years to embed support for good mental health across our public services.

“We remain determined to improve access to mental health services for all those who need them - this includes people with diabetes and other long-term conditions so that they can live healthy, happy and productive lives,” she said.



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