Better Help for the Mentally Ill, Who Develop Type 2 Diabetes Twice as Often as Other People | Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy
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Better Help for the Mentally Ill, Who Develop Type 2 Diabetes Twice as Often as Other People

People with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, develop type 2 diabetes twice as often as other people who do not have those conditions. This group of patients is also more prone to developing both acute diabetes complications and chronic microvascular and macrovascular diabetes complications, and this contributes to them ultimately dying 15 years earlier than the general population.

Steno Diabetes Center Sjaelland in Psychiatry West in Slagelse, is working hard to change this situation. Now help is on the way. Thanks to a grant of DKK 250,000 from the Danish Diabetes Academy, Professor Richard I.G. Holt from University of Southampton, United Kingdom, will join them as a visiting professor.

The purpose of the visiting professorship is to boost research efforts and the treatment efforts for patients suffering from both diabetes and mental illness: initially in Region Zealand, and then throughout Denmark.

Richard I.G. Holt and his Danish hosts have been collaborating for several years. For example, he was a keynote speaker in 2019 when Steno Diabetes Center Sjaelland held its first, preliminary conference, marking the start of its concentrated efforts in the field of diabetes and psychiatry.

The two key questions on which the Danish researchers and their English guest will focus are:

  • How can we prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in people with severe mental illness?
  • How can clinical treatment be improved, and complications prevented, once a person has acquired type 2 diabetes?

During the period of Richard I.G. Holt’s affiliation with Steno Diabetes Center Sjaelland, he will:

  • Develop a site research strategy in collaboration with local researchers to investigate the prevention, screening and clinical treatment of people with type 2 diabetes and severe mental illness.
  • Bring together researchers in different sectors in the field of type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and mental disorders, with the aim of designing at least one major joint research project.
  • Develop the skills of researchers working in the field of type 2 diabetes and psychiatric comorbidity and help improve the research dissemination competencies of these researchers.

It has already been decided that the team will conduct PhD seminars and workshops for healthcare professionals to increase staff awareness of the treatment and support needs of people with diabetes and severe mental illness. For example, there will be a two-day conference that brings together healthcare professionals, from both the primary and secondary sectors, and researchers in the field of type 2 diabetes and psychiatry.

Overall, the efforts of the visiting professor are expected to boost research, leading to the implementation of major clinical research projects and subsequent scientific publications, and to optimise the clinical treatment of patients suffering from both diabetes and serious mental illness in Region Zealand and throughout Denmark.

Facts about the “Fusion Clinic”

  • Steno Diabetes Center Sjaelland has launched the ‘Fusion Clinic’ under the auspices of Psychiatry West in Slagelse, specifically for the treatment of patients suffering from both serious mental illness and diabetes. The purpose of the clinic is to improve the overall treatment of patients in a holistic perspective.



  • Richard I.G. Holt, Professor, PhD FRCP, University of Southampton, United Kingdom

  • Awarded DKK 250,000 by the Danish Diabetes Academy

  • Title of project: Preventing and managing diabetes in people with severe mental illness

  • Research institution in Denmark: Steno Diabetes Center Sjaelland 

  • Host in Denmark: Professor and Head of Research Sidse Arnfred, MD, MSc, PhD, DMSc, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, and Research Unit for Psychotherapy and Psychopathology, Psychiatry West, Region Zealand Mental Health Service

Richard Holt

Sidse Arnfred
Tel: +45 24227045

Danish Diabetes Academy
Managing Director Tore Christiansen
Tel: +45 29 64 67 64