Team approach eases mental health burden of diabetes management

Managing Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can present mental challenges as well as physical ones.

It is with this in mind that West Moreton Health’s Diabetes Service takes a team approach to individual care.

Diabetes Clinical Nurse Stephanie Young said the service was made up of several specialist teams to support consumers’ individual needs.

“We can put consumers in touch with our psychology team or our Indigenous Liaison team, who provide cultural support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Ms Young said.

She said West Moreton Health also offered the DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating) program for people with Type 1 diabetes.

“It is very important that people with diabetes know they are not alone,” Ms Young said. “Anxiety can be a big part of any condition, and it helps when people realise a diabetes diagnosis does not stop them enjoying the activities they love.

“We use all the tools in our department to build and establish relationships with people to make them feel comfortable.”

Diabetes Service Nurse Unit Manager Patricia Roderick said National Diabetes Week, which ran from 11 to 17 July, was an important chance to raise awareness of the links between mental illness and diabetes.

“Depression and diabetes are bidirectional,” Ms Roderick said. “People living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing depression and people with depression have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

“For people living with diabetes there is an emotional burden of managing blood glucose levels, day in day out, year after year, that can lead to diabetes distress, anxiety and depression.”

Ms Roderick said 5.9% of the population, or 12,730 people in the Ipswich Local Government Area, were living with diabetes. According to Diabetes Australia, more than four in five people with diabetes have experienced diabetes stigma and nearly half of people with diabetes have experienced mental health challenges in the past 12 months.

Diabetes Service client Nick Parfitt said recognising the stresses that came with diabetes was a key part of managing the condition.

He has been living and managing his Type 1 diabetes since he was 13.

“Having diabetes as a constant part of your life can leave you feeling vulnerable,” Mr Parfitt said. “But you are not alone.”

He said the Diabetes Service and the DAFNE program had helped him meet other people with diabetes, and talking with them had been reassuring.

“Feeling alone can accentuate negative thinking,” Mr Parfitt said. “If you know others face similar issues, it can be turned into a positive outcome. DAFE has taught me ways of recognising and solving the issues that frustrate me.”

If you are living with diabetes, please talk with your GP or endocrinologist about developing a plan to manage your diabetes and support your wellbeing. If you are a health professional and have questions regarding referral of your patient to West Moreton Health, visit