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Diabetes Action Month Sheds Light On Diabetes Distress And Raises Over $500K For People Living With Diabetes

Diabetes NZ’s annual Diabetes Action Month took place over the month of November, educating hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders about the emotional burden of living with diabetes.

This year’s campaign theme of Love Don’t Judge encouraged New Zealanders to understand and support people living with diabetes, putting aside any negative attitudes and taking time to learn about this chronic condition.

Diabetes NZ CEO Heather Verry says diabetes distress is a real issue facing the quarter of a million New Zealanders affected by diabetes.

“Diabetes distress is the emotional burden of living with, and managing the relentless, 24/7 condition that is diabetes. Before this year’s Diabetes Action Month, diabetes distress was a little-known condition, despite affecting 81% of Kiwis living with diabetes,” she says.

“There is a strong link between diabetes distress and poor diabetes management, as well as a physiological link between stress and higher blood glucose levels. Acknowledging and understanding diabetes distress can have huge impact on controlling a person’s diabetes, which is the main goal of anyone living with the condition.”

Ms Verry says this year’s Diabetes Action Month ended with a bang, with $500,000 raised for diabetes through a live auction at the organisation’s Challenger Dinner.

“This big fundraising event for Diabetes NZ was held in Auckland with special guests from the Challengers Series - Jimmy Spithill, Sir Ben Ainslie and Dean Barker. We received some incredibly generous donations for our live auction, which raised a total of $500,000 which will go towards supporting kids and adults living with diabetes, and digital programmes to prevent the onset of diabetes,” she says.

Ms Verry says the legacy of this year’s Diabetes Action Month will live on through new resources on diabetes distress, and also the conversation created throughout the month on emotional wellbeing for people living with diabetes.

“For the first time, this year Diabetes NZ ran a series of Facebook Lives over the course of Diabetes Action Month, to create an opportunity for open conversation around mental health and diabetes. Given the prevalence of diabetes distress and diabetes burnout, we were thrilled to open this up and create a forum where anyone could talk about their feelings and experiences,” she says.

“In consultation with psychologists including Dr Anna Friis, Diabetes NZ developed a resource on diabetes distress which lives on our website for people to access at any time. This resource explains what diabetes distress is, how to know if you or a loved one is experiencing diabetes distress, and some tools to handle feelings relating to diabetes distress.”

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