Diabetes is a serious medical condition affecting millions of people worldwide.
While considerable progress has been made in recent years regarding treatment and management, one of the biggest challenges faced by those with diabetes is stigma.
Diabetes stigma can take many forms, but it refers to negative attitudes and beliefs toward those with the condition.
This can result in discrimination, social isolation and feeling devalued or ‘less than’ others.
Diabetes stigma can profoundly impact mental health and overall well-being, so it’s essential to understand what it is and how to deal with it.
If you’re living with diabetes or know someone who is, you should familiarize yourself with the impacts of stigma.
Defining diabetes stigma
Diabetes stigma is rooted in the idea that someone with diabetes is seen as ‘less than’ a person without the condition.
It refers to the discrimination and negative attitudes towards people with diabetes, either expressed overtly or through subtle acts of exclusion.
Examples of diabetes stigma include labeling someone with diabetes as ‘unable,’ overlooking their talents or abilities because of their condition, or even rumors and gossip about them simply because they have diabetes.
Diabetes stigma can, unfortunately, lead to feelings of shame among those who suffer from the condition, but it’s important to remember that everyone’s experience of living with diabetes can be very different.
The effects of diabetes stigma
Diabetes stigma can have a devastating impact on individuals with the condition.
It can lead to isolation, depression, and a sense of shame or embarrassment about having diabetes.
Diabetes stigma may also have negative repercussions on someone’s health, as it could cause them to avoid discussing their condition or seeking medical care due to fear of judgment.
The pervasive attitude that people with diabetes are “unhealthy” has resulted in far-reaching consequences that often go unrecognized. Even in healthcare settings, it is common for individuals with diabetes to be perceived differently than other patients.
Research shows that stigmatization of individuals with diabetes can negatively affect blood glucose levels, quality of life, and stress levels.
To ensure the well-being of those living with this condition, it is essential to educate not only healthcare providers but society at large about the effects of stigma and the importance of compassion and understanding when supporting those facing this disease.
How to combat diabetes stigma
Fortunately, there are ways we can combat the damaging effects of diabetes stigma.
Education about how diabetes is a medical condition that requires proper care can help promote empathy and understanding from those that don’t have diabetes or fully understand it.
As people living with diabetes, we can set an example for our friends and family by being open and honest about our experiences with diabetes as well as how it affects our daily lives.
We can also support organizations and initiatives that are dedicated to combating negative stigmas around this condition like schools putting on workshops and seminars addressing diabetes in young adults.
Additionally, speaking out when we identify stigmatizing comments or beliefs is an important part of reducing stigma and increasing understanding.
All of these actionable steps go a long way in lessening feelings of unfairness, judgment, or isolation based on living with diabetes.
To sum it up
Diabetes stigma is a harsh and pervasive reality that needs to be addressed directly.
We must work together to build an environment of understanding and acceptance so that those living with diabetes have the opportunity to access the resources they need to thrive.
It is also important for employers, insurance providers, healthcare providers, friends, and family members to recognize how damaging it can be when people unfairly associate negative outcomes or judgments with a person’s diabetes.
By standing together against ignorance associated with this chronic illness, we can create meaningful change toward equitable access and care for those living with diabetes.