Recent studies have shown that adults living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to treatable medical conditions (Morbidity and Mortality in People with Serious Mental Illness). One of the biggest causes is diabetes – a serious condition, to be sure, but not one that would prevent a person from living a long and healthy life if diagnosed and managed. Unfortunately, only one-third of people with type 2 diabetes who also live with a mental health disorder receive a proper diagnosis or treatment for their problems: Experts Call for More Mental Health Treatment for People with Diabetes
In 2002, more than half of disabled Medicaid participants with psychiatric conditions also had claims for type 2 diabetes – 56% to be exact (Mental Disorders and Medical Comorbidity). No wonder people with serious mental illness die 25 years earlier than the average person!
Obesity and poor nutrition are two of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes in people with mental health issues. Identifying and treating diabetes in this population must be a priority for all healthcare providers. It’s equally important to address the root causes of diabetes, many of which have a behavioral aspect. It’s a good thing to teach people how to manage a serious health condition like diabetes after being diagnosed but it is even better to give people coaching and support to lead a healthy lifestyle, so type 2 diabetes is prevented all together.
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