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Australians with diabetes have a higher prevalence of poor mental health and wellbeing than those without diabetes, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Diabetes and poor mental health and wellbeing: an exploratory analysis, shows that a significantly higher proportion of adults with diabetes had medium, high or very high levels of psychological distress compared with other Australians.

‘Diabetes and poor mental health and wellbeing are both common health conditions in Australia,’ said AIHW spokesperson Anne Broadbent.

‘Over 800,000 adults are estimated to have diabetes and over 4 million adults are estimated to have medium, high or very high levels of psychological distress.’

‘In 2007-08, almost 42% of adults with diabetes also reported having medium, high or very high levels of psychological distress, compared with 32% of people without diabetes,’ Ms Broadbent said.

Over 17% of people aged 16 to 85 years with diabetes also had an anxiety, affective or substance use disorder with symptoms in the past 12 months.

In 2007-08, diabetes hospitalisations were more likely to also have a mental health condition recorded than other hospitalisations.

‘Substance use disorder, dementia/Alzheimer disease and depression were the most common mental health conditions also recorded for people hospitalised with diabetes,’ Ms Broadbent said.

The proportion of people who claimed a mental health-related service from the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) in 2008 was twice as high for those with a diabetes-related MBS service than for those without a diabetes-related MBS service.

‘There is also an association between poor mental health and some health risk factors for diabetes such as smoking,’ Ms Broadbent said.

People with diabetes who were also current smokers were more likely to have a mental disorder and more likely to have medium, high or very high levels of psychological distress than those with diabetes who were not current smokers.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 23 June 2011

Further information: Ms Anne Broadbent, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1204, mob. 0407 915 851

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Full report: Diabetes and poor mental health and wellbeing: an exploratory analysis