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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Diabetes Week: focus on mental health amid pandemic

National Diabetes Week (12-18 July) will this year focus on mental health, and the significant toll diabetes can have on the emotional wellbeing of those living with the condition.  

More than 18,000 people in the ACT live with diabetes, and Diabetes NSW & ACT CEO, Sturt Eastwood, is urging people to be aware of the additional pressures faced by people with the condition.

He says 71% of people with type 1 diabetes and 58% with type 2 diabetes say the condition has a negative impact on their emotional wellbeing.

“As a result, it’s estimated that the quality of life and mental health of about 10,000 people in the ACT is affected by diabetes.”

Mr Eastwood, who lives with type 1 diabetes, says the constant need for people with diabetes to make decisions that impact their health can “weigh you down in the best of times”, while the social and physical restrictions due to COVID-19 have presented additional challenges.

The organisation’s psychologist Katherine Dixon says diabetes adds an extra level of stress to simple, everyday activities. She says she has seen a 30% increase in appointments since the pandemic began.  

“What I regularly hear from the people I talk to is that diabetes is relentless,” she says. “When you add an extra stress such as COVID-19, it can be overwhelming.”

Ms Dixon outlined five simple steps to help people with diabetes with their mental health:

  • Positivity: Incorporate something that makes you feel good into your day.
  • Engagement: Be fully in the moment. When we’re in the zone we stop worrying about other things.
  • Relationships: Create connections with people who help you and make you feel good.
  • Meaning: Do something that gives you a sense of purpose.
  • Achievement: Celebrate big and small achievements each day.

Mr Eastwood says women who develop gestational diabetes are more “likely to experience depression during pregnancy and after delivery”.

Gestational diabetes is a growing issue in the ACT, and Diabetes NSW & ACT has launched an online community called Capital Chicks Canberra for women in Canberra pre-, during and post-pregnancy, providing information, motivation and connection.

The Carillion, Bowen Place and Kings Avenue will be lit up in blue for National Diabetes Week, while billboards at the airport will be displayed to increase awareness of the condition.

If you or someone you know is struggling with diabetes, contact Diabetes NSW & ACT on 1300 342 238.

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