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World Diabetes Day draws attention to vulnerable populations

November 21, 2013

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On Thursday, November 14, 2013, millions of people worldwide wore blue in honor of World Diabetes Day, an awareness campaign led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization in response to the escalating health threat of diabetes across the globe.

The campaign features a new theme each year to address issues facing the global diabetes community. This year’s theme was Diabetes Education and Prevention.

The IDF reports that in 2012, more than 371 million people lived with diabetes, with that number increasing in every country. In Ontario alone, the Canadian Diabetes Association estimates that more than 1.3 million people live with the disease and that the prevalence is expected to increase to 1.9 million by 2020.

The risk of diabetes facing people with serious mental health issues is especially high. Research shows that diabetes is not only more prevalent among people living with serious mental health issues but also those under-diagnosed and under-treated.

To address this issue, CMHA Ontario, the Ontario Peer Development Initiative (OPDI), and the Provincial Consumer/Survivor LHIN Leads Network (PCSLL) recently collaborated on Diabetes and Mental Health Peer Support project which provided diabetes competency training for mental health peer support workers.

Building on previous evidence that peer support is an effective method of supporting self-management for chronic diseases, the goals of the project were to increase awareness in the diabetes community of the role mental health peer support workers can play in prevention and self-management support for people living with serious mental illness, as well as enhancing the support skills of the peer support workers themselves.

As part of the project, a module was developed and distributed provincially as a stand-alone resource for training mental health peer support workers who support individuals with diabetes and mental health issues. Evaluation of the resource revealed that it was effective in increasing workers’ general knowledge of diabetes, enhancing their confidence in their peer support role.

The training module, as well as a guide to facilitating diabetes and mental health peer support groups, is now available for free on the Diabetes and Mental Health website.

To raise awareness about the growing concern around the links between diabetes and mental health, CMHA Ontario has created the following infographic. Click on the image below to download and share.

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