Putting an end to diabetes stigma

When talking about people with diabetes, it is easy to overlook the toll the condition has on their mental and emotional wellbeing.

That’s why Peninsula Health is seeking to help raise awareness of ‘diabetes stigma’ within the community.

According to Diabetes Australia, people experience this stigma when they are blamed for having diabetes while managing the condition. This includes:

  • injecting insulin in public, and
  • when they experience the affects and complications of diabetes, such as low blood sugar.

“People with diabetes can be asked the most inappropriate questions by well-meaning (and not so well meaning) members of the public,” explains Janine Claxton, a Clinical Psychologist in our Paediatric and Young Adult Diabetes Service.  

“Without even knowing, or with the best intentions, such comments and questions can leave a lasting negative impact on these individuals.”

Janine, who specialises in patients with Type 1 diabetes, was the first psychologist employed as a member of the Paediatric and Young Adult Diabetes Teams at Frankston Hospital back in 2006.

She says that anxiety is a common side-effect of Type 1 diabetes, which can impact people both young and old.

“Anxiety about high or low blood glucose levels can be a particular burden for people with Type 1 diabetes,” explains Janine

“Coping with this at school, in the workplace or out and about takes time and attention. Diabetes burnout is a very real phenomenon.”

Janine says that while an increasing number of young people living with diabetes are comfortable seeking relevant supports to manage their condition, we all need to learn more about diabetes to properly understand what they face on a daily basis.

“Type 1 diabetes can land in anyone’s lap. And the people in whose lap it does land do an incredible job of managing it, day in, day out,” says Janine.

“From what I have seen, people with Type 1 diabetes are courageous, quiet achievers, who are required on a daily and often hourly basis, to put in mental effort and energy to keep themselves alive.”  

For more information about diabetes stigma, you can visit the National Diabetes Week webpage.

You can also learn more about Peninsula Health’s Diabetes Services by clicking here.