Living With Type 1 Diabetes

Accessing mental health services with type 1 diabetes

June 29, 2020

This resource was created in consultation with Dr. Rosalyn Taylor, Clinical Psychologist who specialises in diabetes at the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service.

Living with type 1 diabetes can often mean we emphasise our physical health at the expense of many other aspects of our well-being – including our mental health. The truth is, we shouldn’t overlook the emotional, social and psychological effects T1D has on our lives.

Diabetes can make life feel frustrating and unforgiving. It’s a sensitive creature which can be affected by stress, exercise, illness, excitement, travel, work and routine changes, hormones, our age, food and drink, insulin type/dose/site, or even for no reason at all.

Living with T1D also puts you at greater risk of developing depression, anxiety and even eating disorders. It’s tough to maintain blood glucose levels and hold onto motivation, especially when T1D is something you must manage 24/7.

So, when the going gets tough it’s important to know support is available and where to access that support.

Here is our official guide to accessing mental health services for people living with T1D.

How do I start?

Accessing mental health services in Australia can feel complex, but you shouldn’t be discouraged! If you’re in need of support, you should find someone to be your first point of contact and who can help navigate mental health services with you.

In any case, this person should be someone you trust and is available to see you regularly – for example your general practitioner (GP), diabetes educator or a community mental health worker.

Isn’t accessing mental health services expensive?

Not necessarily.

Your GP can refer you to a psychologist or mental health social worker for counselling. They can make this more affordable for you by filling out a “Mental Health Care Plan” under the Better Access Scheme. By accessing this initiative, you’ll be able to claim part of the cost of the counselling sessions through Medicare and reduce your out of pocket costs.

You and your GP will develop the “Mental Health Care Plan” together and it will contain a summary of how you’ve been feeling as well as a treatment plan and options for support services which will help you achieve your goals.

If you are privately insured you may also be covered for part of the cost, however you might need to check this with your fund!

Additionally, many public hospital diabetes services have specialist diabetes psychologists who are available at no cost.  If you are already engaged with a diabetes team in a hospital setting, ask at your next appointment if there is a psychologist available for them to refer you to.  To access this particular service you are not required to complete a “Mental Health Care Plan” with your GP.

Who can help?

If you access a “Mental Health Care Plan” your GP will be the starting point for seeking professional help. They will arrange to refer you to an eligible Psychologist, Social Worker or Occupational Therapist. Alternatively, they might decide the best course of action is to refer you to other mental health practitioners. Ask them to consider health practitioners with expertise in type 1 diabetes or chronic disease.

Some examples of other mental health practitioners include:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Mental health nurses
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers
  • Counsellors
  • Complementary health practitioners
  • Hospitals
  • Crisis Assessment or Acute Treatment teams

Read more about the difference between these health professionals and the kind of treatment they provide on the Beyond Blue website.

Where can I access mental health care?

There are many ways and places where you can access mental health services, for example: your home, at a medical practice, in a hospital or by attending a specialist facility.

Additionally, if you require emergency help with a mental health condition you can contact ambulance services by dialling 000 (triple zero) for urgent assistance.

Check out some of the various places you can access mental health services below.

Where to access mental health services with T1D

Source: Australian Mental Health Services from healthdirect.

Other sources of support

You may be looking for other pillars of support in the T1D community while you address your mental health needs. Here’s some resources you can access from JDRF Australia and other organisations:

To talk to someone urgently contact: