Reducing the Impact of Diabetes Stigma in Our Community

“Would you mind being blamed for a condition anyone could develop?”

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic health condition in Australia, with 2 million Australians living with diagnosed diabetes, where more than 80 per cent will experience diabetes stigma throughout their lifetime.

For National Diabetes Week this year, Diabetes Australia are raising awareness through their Heads Up on Diabetes and Stigma Campaign to end the blame and shame of those living with diabetes.

This campaign is asking Australians to consider diabetes-related stigma and its impacts on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of people with diabetes. Where working together as a community we can be increasing our awareness and support of people with diabetes by treating them with kindness, respect and understanding.

What is diabetes stigma and how does it impact people with diabetes?

Diabetes stigma of people living with diabetes is negative social experiences of judgement, blame and shame for their condition. Stigma towards diabetes can include being treated differently, excluded, stereotyping and lack of understanding about the cause and ability of those with the condition.

This causes people with diabetes to feel ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, and isolated causing negative emotional, social, self-care, and health consequences. The consequences of perceived or experienced stigma of people with diabetes can impact poorly on both physiological and physical health. Diabetes stigma impacts on their social relationships in the community, can contribute to depression and anxiety, and create poor attitudes towards self-care of the condition which may increase the risk of diabetes-related complications.

How can we reduce diabetes stigma?

In our community we can reduce diabetes stigma through being more thoughtful and deliberate in the language we use towards those who are living with diabetes.

As family, friends, and colleagues of people with diabetes it is important to not be judgemental of weight gain, food choices or the diagnosis of the condition. Instead show respect and support to people with diabetes, especially when they manage their condition in public. Be understanding of the condition, people with diabetes did not ask for the condition and that it can be demanding to live with.

Nutrition Australia NSW offers support for those with diabetes and their families, as well as helping corporates, organisations and schools understand how to approach and manage diabetes. Contact us today about how we can help you reduce diabetes stigma and it’s devasting effects.

For individual support, Get Healthy NSW offers Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Program for those in NSW at high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Find out if you are eligible here.

Nutrition Australia NSW is proudly supported by NSW Health.