Building a T1D Support Network
Do you have a diabetes support network to help you be responsible and feel better when you're feeling down with diabetes? It's been proven that having a social support network can improve blood sugars and help people with diabetes feel less sad. If you think you may need some help, or if you just want to meet new people living with type 1, there are multiple support groups for all ages living with diabetes. New patients often find that having experienced friends helps them through the hardest parts of diabetes and experienced patients can always use a reminder that they are not alone in this struggle. Whatever stage of the journey you're on, we hope you find some of these resources helpful.
Note: If you or someone you love is experiencing depression or extreme diabetes burnout, please talk to our social work team at the U-M Pediatric Diabetes Clinic by calling the clinic.
Finding a Support Group in Person
One of the best places to find information and learn about the nuances of diabetes is with other families who are going through something similar. The Michigan and Northern Ohio JDRF Chapter has a list of support groups and coffee groups which can be found here. These groups are excellent for sharing stories and helpful hints that could make your experience with T1D a bit easier to manage. If there are no groups available near you, it does not necessarily mean that there is no demand for one. Contact a JDRF representative to organize a small group that meets once a month to help build a T1D community chapter near you.
It's not always easy or practical for all of our patients and families to attend support group meetings in person. The beauty of the Internet age is that we have access to a near-infinite amount of information and can connect with each other virtually. There are many social media groups as well as a variety of blogs like DiabetesMine, Naturally Sweet Sisters, Six Until Me, and many more. Each person's diabetes experience is different so it may take time for you to find the voices that you enjoy and trust - just know that no matter who you are or what your connection to T1D is, you are not alone!
Note: U-M Pediatric Diabetes Clinic cannot verify or condone any advice or recommendations administered through 3rd parties. Please consult your care team if you have any concerns.
Finding Friends in the T1D Community
When you were first diagnosed with diabetes, finding friends was probably one of the last things on your mind. T1D comes with a lot of baggage, but luckily it can also be one of the best bonding experiences for meeting new friends like yourself. Sometimes it's hard to find those new friends, but when you do, you'll instantly have something to bond over.
One of the best ways to find other T1D patients your age is connecting through summer camp or another T1D community event. Our All About Camp page will help you get informed about Camp Midicha, a Michigan-based camp experience for kids and teens with T1D to hang out in a safe and friendly environment. The Events page is a good place to check for upcoming diabetes events, including JDRF events and clinic get-togethers like our U-M Pediatric Diabetes Patient Picnic.
For college students, check if your school has a T1D community or collegiate support group. You can also explore other sites like The Diabetes Link (formerly the College Diabetes Network) to hear from and get involved with other T1D patients at your age level. These resources can help you navigate difficult areas that may be too sensitive to ask friends and family about. As always, you should keep your diabetes care team in the loop to ensure your safety!
Learn From the Pros!
Whether you're just starting out or just need a shoulder to lean on sometimes, it can be handy to have a contact you can rely on for diabetes advice and sharing (other than your clinic care team, of course). Below are some additional ways you can get connected with other T1D families in a more one-on-one setting.
JDRF Peer-to-Peer Mentors
If you would prefer to meet with someone one on one, the JDRF Peer-to-Peer Mentor Support Group Program consists of a group of trained volunteers who offer guidance and support to families living with diabetes by sharing their own personal experience living with diabetes. The Mentors are a resource for all people with T1D, whether newly diagnosed or struggling with new issues at different ages and stages. Contact the Michigan and Northern Ohio JDRF Chapter to get in touch with a Mentor.
ADA Family Link
ADA Family Link is a community based network of parent volunteers with children and teenagers with diabetes, who provide education, advocacy, and support through social events to families living with diabetes. Family Link is dedicated to strengthening relationships between children with diabetes, their families, their diabetes care team and their school, as well as improving diabetes education and awareness. Contact Krista Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. If you are interested in participating in any Family Link events or are looking for more information, check out their website.