January 2020 Group Meeting - Health Psychology

The Chelmsford and District Group invited Rebecca Upsher, who is a PhD student at Kings College London to speak to the group on Health Psychology.  Rebecca also has type 1 diabetes.

A total of 27 members attended, which is a remarkable achievement for a January meeting!  

Mike Higgins gave out the notices before introducing Rebecca to the  Members.

Rebecca explained Health Psychology is very different from Clinical Psychology.  A health psychologist supports those who are living with a long term health condition, such as diabetes.  It is now well documented that diabetes control improves with this type of support.

People with long term conditions benefit from support from others with the same condition.

It has been found that those with diabetes, who are set goals by their healthcare professional benefit from improved Hba1c test results.

People living with a long term condition such as diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety and depression due to the burden of self-managing the condition.  

Some people with diabetes may develop eating disorders, such as diabulimia.  There is little help at present for those who do develop an eating disorder.  

It has been found there are 42 things that can affect your blood glucose levels.  The list can be found by following the link https://diatribe.org/42factors. I feel this illustrates the difficulties in managing the condition successfully.

People are now being taught that it is normal to have setbacks in their diabetes control.  Healthcare professionals are also being given the tools to allow for an improvement in their communication skills with the patient. 

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, or CBT is used to change peoples thinking patterns to control their diabetes and concerns over keeping blood sugars within range.

 The following link explains in point 6 why and how the NHS intend using more health psychologists.  https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/psychological-professions-vision-for-england-2019-24.pdf

I think we will all benefit from being able to discuss all our thoughts on our diabetes control with someone, who has the necessary skills to address our concerns of living with a long term condition.