Successful Diabetes

Successful Diabetes

Sane, Mind and Samaritans - April 2015

Welcome to our all-new monthly spotlight on an organisation or resource that can help us all in our quest for better health!

The April spotlight's on......Sane, Mind and Samaritans - 3 mental health and emotional support organisations

Read on for all the details and/or download your personal copy here

What are they?

All these organisations are charities which provide help and support for mental health. In each case, their websites will tell you more about them but here is our overview.

Mind ( has the ambition to support people with mental health problems and ensure they are respected.  Mind is a national organisation with affiliated local Minds – each local mind provides services and resources tailored to the needs in their area, for example, practical help with housing, benefits, advice as well as counseling and advocacy. 
Mind runs two helplines - an ‘info line’ and a ‘legal line’ and a text information service, all open from 9am to 6pm weekdays.  Staff help callers to find the right services or information locally. Mind supports mental health in the workplace and provides training and consultancy to businesses to help promote and raise awareness of mental health wellbeing. Information packs are also provided for teachers and lecturers.
Mind also has a wide range of resources to download or buy, covering all aspects of mental health, helpfully covered on its website ‘mental health A-Z’.
Sane’s ( aim is to help reduce the stigma of living with mental health problems. It also runs a helpline, which is open every day from 6pm to 11pm and hosts a discussion forum so that people can share their stories and get support from each other. 
Sane promotes the idea of seeking help early to prevent relapses in mental health conditions and runs a ‘black dog’ programme for people with depression.
Sane also provides information and resources and undertakes a great deal of research, for example into suicidal feelings and self-harm behaviours.
Samaritans ( is also an example of a national charity with local branches. It is open 24 hours every day for confidential emotional support and listening for anyone in distress or despair, whatever the cause. Its service is provided by trained volunteers. 
People can telephone and email nationally or locally, or visit any branch in person during its opening hours. Samaritans is non-judgemental, confidential and committed to people making their own decisions about their needs, wherever possible.
Samaritans works nationally to raise awareness of emotional support to reduce suicide feelings and behaviours, for example by providing a partnership with Network Rail, workplace courses and work in schools. It also provides its listening service at many national and local events, for example, festivals and county shows.

How can it help me with living with diabetes?

Diabetes can often bring with it emotional issues – for example anxiety at the time of diagnosis, worry about the future, fear of complications, relationship or work problems. Sometimes diabetes comes along when you already have a mental health diagnosis or experience, and vice versa.  It’s quite common for anxiety and depression to develop when you have diabetes, for example.

All of these need help and support, but it can be that the medical needs of your diabetes tend to take centre stage, with less attention to your mental and emotional health.  So one way these organisations can help is to reverse this and help you prioritise your mental and emotional health in more detail, talk about your feelings and reactions to having diabetes and / or look at treatment and therapy options, depending on your situation.

Another way they can help is by providing you with information to help make sense of your feelings and to better understand any mental health problems you have or develop. In the case of Mind and Sane, discussion forums help you to get and give support to other people and they have a range of practical services you can access.  In the case of Samaritans, you can call any time of the day or night, so you can be confident of getting someone to talk to about your feelings, even ‘out of hours’.

How can it help me with working with diabetes?

Most obviously, knowing about these organisations and how they help, will help you to pass on this information to people with diabetes you are in contact with, when you think they may need the kind of support they offer.  In turn, this will help people to look after themselves and get support that may not be easy to access or provided in the NHS, for example, counselling or therapy, advice on preventing relapses, detailed information about treatment options.  They can provide a useful point of contact between your scheduled consultations, perhaps.

As a health professional or staff member, you will have skills which are valued by these organisations among their volunteers. It may be that you are looking for a new outlet for your skills and volunteers in these organisations are always being sought.  In turn, you may also gain new skills and perspectives from volunteering, which can help in your NHS work with diabetes.

Finally, working in diabetes can be stressful and bring its own effects on your mental health and emotions. These organisations are for everyone and their resources and services may offer you ways to help you look after yourself in order to carry on caring for others.

Our 3 top reasons to give  a try:

 1.    They can provide additional support, information and services, which help both people with diabetes and health professionals

2.    Emotional and mental health issues are often the ‘poor relation’ in diabetes care. These organisations can help to change that and give people ‘somewhere to go’

3.    All the organisations are highly respected, freely accessible, respect confidentiality and anonymity and, in the case of Mind and Samaritans, have a local presence

Any down sides?

None that we can think of:  among these 3 organisations, there seems to be something for all of us. 

That’s it for now! Hope you like our take on Mind, Sane and Samaritans, and watch out for another ‘Self Health Spotlight’ in May!


'my health apps' - March 2015

Welcome to our all-new monthly spotlight on an organisation or resource that can help us all in our quest for better health!

The March spotlight's on......'my health apps' website

Read on for all the details and/or download your personal copy here

What is it?

‘my health apps’ is a website featuring a collection of health related apps ‘tried and tested by people like you’, as the strapline to the site explains.  The site is an educational resource provided by an independent UK company called ‘Patient Voice’, who specialise in ensuring the user voice is heard in all aspects of healthcare. Their work includes providing advice and resource on what people want from their healthcare and in particular from technology and help to improve this. The company has offices in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands and work with organisations and individuals, to help provide trustworthy, convenient information about the apps available to help with health – as they say, the site provides ‘the best healthcare apps, recommended by empowered consumers, patients and carers’.

Each app featured on the website is accompanied by testimony from organisations or individuals, and given ‘heart ratings’, according to what they like most about the app.  There can be up to 5 ‘hearts’ awarded,  using the following criteria:  helps to control your condition; trustworthy; easy to use; gives the chance to network with others; can use regularly.  This feature gives an instant visual idea of what is liked most in an individual app.  Other information about the app includes its developer, country of origin, languages it is available in and its cost.

The apps included on the website are ordered according to a wide range of different categories of health – arranged on the home page and ranging from ‘bones and muscles’ through ‘staying healthy’, ‘mental health’,  ‘sexual health’ to ‘other long term conditions’ and many others in between!

Selecting the category of your choice, brings up a sub menu of topics – for example, diabetes is included in ‘other long term conditions’, anxiety is included in ‘mental health’, etc, which means that it is really easy to navigate to the apps that relate to the condition you need. You can then order the apps included in your category by alphabet, number of ‘heart’ ratings, cost, language and platform.  Once you’ve narrowed down in this way, you can investigate each individual app’s details, including more reviews and which ‘hearts’ it covers, and make your choice!

How can it help me with living with diabetes?

People often say how difficult it is to make sense of the vast array of information about diabetes, including support tools such as apps – which are reliable? how well do they work?, for example.  This website provides some answers and makes it easier to filter what’s available, and gain reliable testimony from those who’ve tested them out.  It could be a really useful ‘cross reference’ for apps that you’ve seen elsewhere, too.

‘my health apps’ also covers many other aspects of health that might affect, or be affected by your diabetes, for example, digestive disorders such as coeliac disease or heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation.  There are sections with apps relating to ‘staying healthy’ and ‘me and my doctor’, which both feature heavily in living with diabetes. In this way, the website is a kind of ‘one stop shop’ for helping yourself.

You can also submit apps for inclusion on the website, so if your favourite one isn’t featured, you can let the team know.  There’s a section for developers, so if you have an idea or have built an app to help you in living with diabetes, there’s opportunity for that, too. Patient Voices want to alert developers to what apps people need and want.

How can it help me with working with diabetes?

It’s becoming a bit of a theme, but these apps can help healthcare staff as much as anybody, to stay healthy or deal with your personal health related conditions – the website is for everyone, so do try it yourself!

Apart from that, you can reliably recommend the site to people, because it is endorsed by NHS Choices and carefully edited by a reliable company.

Knowing about ‘my health apps’ could also give you the opportunity of starting a conversation with people (in consultations, clinics or education sessions, for example) about the apps they use, prefer or maybe would like to see developed.  This is an area that people, especially young adults, say is not always explored with them, and also that healthcare staff are not always confident they understand enough to broach the subject.  So, the site can help on both counts!

Our 3 top reasons to give  a try:

1.    It’s very quick and easy to access and navigate

2.    The ‘hearts’ rating system helps give a personal view

3.    It includes apps for both mental and physical health

Any down sides?

As ever, just a couple of small things:

1.    Some of the diabetes-related apps are American or European, making the terminology or measurements (eg HbA1c) different from those in the UK, so this is worth bearing in mind

2.    It’s useful to remember that hearts are given for what is liked most about the app, so, for example, where the ‘is trustworthy’ heart rating is not given, it doesn’t mean it’s ‘untrustworthy’!

That’s it for now! Hope you like our take on 'my health apps' and watch out for another ‘Self Health Spotlight’ in April!


Diabetes Stories Website - February 2015

Welcome to our all-new monthly spotlight on an organisation or resource that can help us all in our quest for better health!

The February spotlight's on......The Diabetes Stories website

Read on for all the details and/or download your personal copy here

What is it?

Diabetes Stories is a website set up by the Oxford Centre for Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM). It consists of stories and experiences of people with diabetes, families and health professionals from each decade between the 1920s and early 2000s. There are 100 stories, including interviews, video clips and downloads. Together these stories form an oral social and medical history of diabetes in the 20th century.  Its intention is to show how diabetes services and technological developments have affected the lives of people living and working with diabetes over successive decades, but it also serves as a contribution to the history of medicine itself.

Diabetes Stories was the brainchild of Professor David Matthews of OCDEM. He was inspired by the memories and experiences he heard from the people with diabetes attending his clinics and felt that there should be a collection of such memories.  This developed into a way of also capturing the stories of those working in the field of diabetes care.

Diabetes Stories was a collaboration between OCDEM and an oral historian, Helen Lloyd and was funded by 2 project grants from the Wellcome Trust.  As well as the website, copies of the recordings have been archived in the British Library and at OCDEM itself.

The website is easy to navigate and search, by person, by topic or by decade, for example. Each of the stories has a series of short extracts from the interview, highlighting different topics covered in it, or you can play the whole interview or download its transcript.  Some of the interviews have ‘extra content’, such as photographs and examples of equipment, supplied by the interviewee.

Diabetes Stories is a vast and absorbing resource which has something useful for everyone living or working with diabetes and for researchers both now and in the future

How can it help me with living with diabetes?

Many people say that one of the most helpful aspects of learning about living with diabetes is to share the experiences and feelings and practical tips from others who also live with it.  With Diabetes Stories, you can learn from others, not only currently, but from the past.  You can also get an insight ‘behind the scenes’ from health professionals and care workers and see how history has shaped the services you receive today.

You can use the topic search to look for any aspect of diabetes from any interview, which can help when you are looking into aspects of your own condition or experience.

Finally, you can gain motivation and inspiration from the stories, either because you can see how life has turned out for those who did not have access to our modern-day treatments or because of their successes in managing their condition, ‘against all the odds’

How can it help me with working with diabetes?

You can learn from health professionals who have pioneered new treatments or ways of working, and be inspired by their careers or research.  Diabetes Stories serves very well as a history of diabetes care, so you can become more aware of where developments you may have seen have come from.  If you’re studying diabetes, it can really help you find evidence and quotations to bring your assignments to life!

The best insights for health professionals are often those of people with diabetes themselves and this site gives you easy access to a whole variety of these, which you can listen to and reflect on  - and maybe even share with people you are currently seeing now, who might be experiencing some of the same sort of challenges – a kind of virtual ‘friend with diabetes’!

You can spread the word in your clinics and consultations that this resource exists, so that people have a different context for their diabetes and an opportunity to look at it themselves and find what is most useful to them

Our 3 top reasons to give Diabetes Stories a try


1.    It’s really easy to read and navigate

2.    It’s a mine of useful information and resource for many aspects of living and working with diabetes over the years

3.    You can dip in and out of it, whenever there’s a specific aspect you’d like to hear about


Any down sides?

As ever, just a couple of tiny things:

1.  When you listen to the recordings, there is just a blank screen, where it would be nice to have a picture of the interviewee, to link the story with the person         

2.    The recordings end in the early 2000s, around 2007, so more recent developments and experiences aren’t included.

That’s it for now! Hope you like our take on Diabetes Stories and watch out for another ‘Self Health Spotlight’ in March!

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