Diabetes and mental health connections explored
Brampton’s ‘Let’s Talk Diabetes’ virtual information session explored the connections between mental health and diabetes diagnoses last month.
The information session featured Gwen Simms, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator with Central Brampton Family Health Team, and Marie Ramsey, a registered kinesiologist and a diabetes educator, who works with Simms.
“Essentially, the purpose of all of our ‘Let’s Talk Diabetes’ sessions is really to provide some information about diabetes,” says Simms. “Specific to the topic, it’s really a chance to answer questions that people have about diabetes in general. Managing it, preventing it, questions about their medications or about exercise, food, anything that’s kind of related.”
Though this event is about educating the people about the relationship between diabetes and mental health, another goal is to bring people together and give them a platform to share their experiences with a professional.
“It’s a good opportunity for the group to ask their questions, but also hear from other people in the group about what their concerns are or what works for them,” Simms says. So it also gives them a little bit of some peer support at the same time. So really, I think we’re trying to bring people together to kind of learn and share about diabetes.”
The experts suggest there is a correlation between mental health and diabetes that could stem from many different things.
“The interesting thing is a lot of people with mental health issues do have diabetes,” says Ramsey. “There is a bit of a correlation. You have a higher disposition to develop diabetes if you have a mental health issue. And that probably goes to lifestyle, excess eating, and a whole bunch of those issues that contribute to it.”
There is also a lot of research that suggests the increase in vulnerability of diabetic patients to developing mental health issues.
“It kind of works both ways,” says Simms.” People with diabetes tend to have higher incidences of mental health issues in general and then vice versa. It kind of increases the risk if you already have a mental health issue. It’s about a third of people with diabetes who also have some sort of mental health issues happening, specifically depression and anxiety, but it can really run the gamut of any mental health issue.”
Simms and Marie’s motivation to start this event comes from running diabetes clinics in their office, where patients come only for diabetes checkups. During that clinic, patients are able to see a kinesiologist, a dietician, a pharmacist, and they also see a nurse. They found that many patients needed more information, some aren’t registered, and some of them don’t attend these diabetic clinics.
“We have this program for people who actually can’t make a clinic that frequently because we run them every three months for the same patient, so we cycle through,” says Ramsey. “Some people are working, so they can’t attend this session, they also get a lot of information and it’s open to the community.”
All the upcoming events can be found on the official website of Central Brampton Family Health Team.