Diabetes and mental health: Call out for examples of best practice

The number of people living with diabetes is rising fast. Every day, around 700 people are diagnosed with the condition. That’s one person every two minutes. It’s potentially the most devastating health crisis of our time.

Diabetes can affect all aspects of someone’s life and we know that people with diabetes experience disproportionately high rates of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Our partner, Diabetes UK, recently held a nationwide conversation with over 9,000 people affected by diabetes and used this insight to produce ‘the future of diabetes’ report which outlines what must change in order to create a better future for everyone living with the condition.

The report makes it clear that, as well as more understanding and awareness of diabetes, there are a number of ways we, the NHS, can make it easier to live with diabetes in the future. One of these is providing more support for emotional and psychological health.

As part of the wealth of invaluable work being done here at the NHS Diabetes Programme to improve outcomes for people with diabetes, we recognise that managing an invisible condition can be exhausting and isolating and appropriate mental health support for people with diabetes plays a crucial role in good diabetes management. We have a responsibility now to look into the provision of mental health support for those with diabetes to ensure that is it fit for purpose.

Following on from a successful national event where key stakeholders in diabetes care came together to discuss this important issue, the NHS Diabetes Programme team, in conjunction with the mental health team, are now exploring best practice in mental health support for those with diabetes with the view to ensure uniform access to appropriate services across England.

As part of this piece of work, we have embarked upon a call out to the entire healthcare community in search of examples of best practice from within the NHS that we can learn from, emulate or adapt to form part of a national template.

Help us improve mental health support for people with diabetes!

If you have an example of good mental health support in diabetes care, for different levels and types of mental health need, please email us with a summary of the service(s) at

Your examples will help to shape the conversation around diabetes and mental health and hopefully improve provision of mental health support across the country. A working group will evaluate the examples that we receive and use the insight gained from those to create a template of care which will address current issues in mental health support for people with diabetes.

We really look forward to hearing from you.

Partha Kar

Professor Partha Kar is National Specialty Advisor, Diabetes with NHS England and co-lead of Diabetes GIRFT with NHS Improvement.

He has led and delivered so far on (April 2016- till date):

  • Freestyle Libre being available on NHS -across country
  • NHS Right Care Diabetes pathway
  • Diabetes “Language Matters” document
  • Type 1 diabetes NHS England web-resource – on NHS choices
  • Introduction of Frailty into QoF treatment targets for diabetes care in NHS
  • Availability of CGM to all T1D pregnant patients
  • Diabetes Technology pathway development with multiple stakeholders
  • Setting up pilot projects for diabulimia treatment in London & Wessex
  • Introduction of Low Carbohydrate App into NHS Apps Library

Other work has involved input in updating of driving guidelines in relation to use of technology in those living with diabetes, helping to develop a virtual reality programme to improve hospital safety and starting work on increased mental health access for diabetes patients across the NHS

Professor Partha Kar has been a Consultant in Diabetes & Endocrinology at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust since 2008. He has been the Clinical Director of Diabetes from 2009-2015, being part of a multiple national award-winning department (HSJ Awards / BMJ Awards) due to its services and care provided.

He is the pioneer of the Super Six Diabetes Model which aims to deliver diabetes care differently and is recognised as one of the good examples of integrated care.

An avid user of social media such as twitter (@parthaskar) to engage with patients – and been recognised as a “Social media Pioneer” by HSJ in 2014.

He also writes a monthly blog for the BMJ, has a personal blog (“Sugar and Spice: Wish all things were nice”) and a podcast (“Sweet Talking”)

He has also been:

  • Co-creator of TAD (Talking About Diabetes) – TED talks from those with T1Diabetes
  • Co- creator of Type 1 Diabetes comic (Volume 1 and 2)
  • Setting up Type 1 Diabetes: Rise of the Machines – event on Closed Loops/DIY tech

Follow Partha on Twitter: @parthaskar


  1. Mrs P Bould says:

    Looking for advice please, my 24 year old grandson who lives alone in Plymouth and has type one diabetes along with mental health issues, for the past week he has had bad diarrhoea and we think it’s because his fridge/freezer has broken and maybe he’s been eating off food, also he badly needs a new fridge freezer to store his insulin but he has been unable to purchase one and have it delivered because of this Coronavirus, his mother lives not too far away and is at her witts end because she is a key worker and is worried about having any contact with him., regards
    P Bould

  2. Sharon Mackenzie says:

    Has a template been developed yet?

  3. Sumsun says:

    Dear Partha,
    I am working with Professor Dermot Brabazon in Dublin City University on the development and application of advanced manufacturing and materials for different applications.
    This is in collaboration with Prof. Ken Grattan, copied, from City University London.

    We currently have an application focused on the development of a metal oxide sensor array for enhanced diabetes breadth biomarker sensing. A copy of the abstract is attached.

    For the device development, we would like to include some clinical trials in the final year of the three-year project. The first two years of the project would consist of detailed sensor development, benchmarking, as well as calibration with single and mixed gases testing in the lab.

    Would it be possible from your side to collaborate on this in order to help perform the clinical trials in year three of the project? We are expecting that this would be about three months duration for sample taking and data analysis at some stage during the third

  4. Emma Holland says:

    Bloomin good on yer mate ! So needed in whatever area of diabetes care in where ever country ! Thanks for bringing it to attention, Emma DSN / CDE nurse navigator from Australia ??