The risk of serious mental health problems and type 2 diabetes significantly impacts life expectancy and “must not be overlooked” an NHS director has warned.
People who have bi-polar, depression or schizophrenia are at double the risk of developing other long-term conditions such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Speaking during Mental Health Awareness Week, Anne Moore, Group Nurse Director for Safer Care at Northumberland Tyne and Wear (NTW) NHS Foundation Trust, warned healthcare professionals the risk factors are heightened by serious mental illness medication and lifestyle linked to mental health.
Ms Moore, who has been lined up to speak the Diabetes Professional Care 2018 (DPC2018), said:
“Many healthcare professionals may not be aware that some mental illness treatments can create or increase major risk factors of rapid weight gain, hypertension and pancreatic dysfunction which can then lead to high levels of diabetes, as well as cardio metabolic risks.
“I don’t believe this is as widely understood across primary care and secondary acute and diabetes specialist teams as it should be. It’s a concern because life expectancy can be reduced by up to 20 years, so it must not be overlooked.
“I think the key is educating healthcare professionals who work within the diabetes field so they can know more about the impact of pharmacology and the challenges in managing mental health conditions alongside diabetes, which will ultimately improve outcomes for patients.
Within her trust, Ms Moore’s colleagues have identified some key areas which they believe will improve diabetes care. These include collaborative and patient centred diabetes care planning, diabetes care and treatment awareness and targeted training for staff in mental health. It has also been suggested that specific pathways to support those with mental health issues and diabetes should be introduced.