Balancing Mental Health and Type 1 Diabetes

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JDRF TypeOne Nation Summit: Balancing Health and T1D

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Our latest TypeOneNation Virtual Summit, hosted by sports journalist Jordan Ligons Robinson, explored ways to manage mental health with type 1 diabetes (T1D) with leading experts and T1D community members.

Watch the recorded event now!

Check out some of the highlights below:

Empower Yourself

Yousra Omer is Coordinator of Health Policy for JDRF Advocacy. She discussed the ways advocacy work can be empowering for people living with T1D.

JDRF Advocates have the opportunity to share personal stories of how T1D has impacted their life with Federal lawmakers. Through the power of their voices, Advocates help secure Federal funding for important diabetes research and inform health and regulatory policy. These grassroots efforts improve the quality of life for everyone affected by T1D. “We’re making sure T1Ds have people rooting for them every step of the way,” Yousra said.

Watch Yousra talk about some of the recent accomplishments that are a direct result of the tremendous work done by JDRF advocates:JDRF's Yousra Omer discusses how getting involved in advocacy can help mental health with type 1 diabetes.

Give Yourself Grace

Tony-nominated actor Caitlin Kinnunen shared her personal journey about mental health with type 1 diabetes and how much things have changed since her diagnosis. “I remember going to the audition for Spring Awakening (in 2008) and hiding my diabetes,” she said. “Now, it’s such a part of me that I’m not afraid to own it!”

Jordan and Caitlin also showed a preview of the new Mary Tyler Moore Documentary, Being Mary Tyler Moore, which premiers Friday, May 26, on Max. Caitlin remarked on what an inspiration Mary Tyler Moore was to her, as both an actor and as someone living with T1D. “She has given me so much hope and inspiration to support other people and myself,” she said. Watch the trailer now:

Watch the Being Mary Tyler Moore trailer

Caitlin encourages everyone to take a positive, but realistic, approach to T1D. “No one does life perfectly, let alone life with type 1 diabetes, so give yourself some grace. Tomorrow is a new day.”

Have a Positive Mindset

Dr. Mark Heyman is the CEO of The Center for Diabetes and Mental Health in San Diego, CA. He hosts the podcast Live Free with T1D and is author of the book Diabetes Sucks and You Can Handle It: Your Guide to Managing the Emotional Challenges of T1D.

Dr. Heyman shared tips and tricks to support mental health with T1D using three pillars of emotional health: education, mindset, and behavior. He discussed the importance of a positive mindset and how to change negative behaviors. “Being honest with yourself about the things you can and cannot control is key to managing the stress of type 1 diabetes,” he said.

Dr. Heyman also answered questions from the T1D community. Watch his tips and tricks:

Dr. Mark Heyman gives tips on supporting mental health with type 1 diabetes

Be Self-Aware

Our final guest was Sam Tullman, MPH, facilitator and co-founder of The Diabetes Sangha and Head of Clinical Research for Psyber.

He explained that “sangha” is Sanskrit for a community that joins together to get closer to what really matters or, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “beloved community.” He emphasized the importance of having a community of support. He also encouraged being open with that community about what is going on in your mind and in your body.

Through The Diabetes Sangha, Sam hopes to bridge the gap between T1D and mental health awareness. “We want to create both education and community spaces for people to learn different meditation practices,” he said. “It can be useful not only in navigating life with diabetes but also life in general.”

Watch Sam lead a mindfulness exercise:

Sam Tullman from The Diabetes Sangha leads on meditation session to help improve mental health with type 1 diabetes


JDRF’s TypeOneNation Summits offer education, connection, and inspiration on a variety of important topics to help people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) live their best lives. Sign up for our upcoming TypeOneNation virtual sessions at https://www.jdrf.org/community/typeonenationsummits.