National Diabetes Week is an important week for people living with diabetes in Australia. It is an opportunity to have all types of diabetes given attention and focus in the media and to talk about the significant health issue it is – for people living with diabetes, their families, and health systems.
And sometimes, messed up in the campaigns and the social media onslaught, we get sidelined by arguments and heated discussions, and we start to forget one of the real reasons this week is important: how diabetes affects those of us actually living with the condition.
Today, I helped launch a new report. The Diabetes MILES Youth survey was conducted last year and the results have now been published. The survey aimed to examine the impact of diabetes on young people living with diabetes and their families.
The report (which can be found here) shows that a quarter of young people living with type 1 diabetes experience moderate to severe depressive or anxiety symptoms. This image shows the top problem areas for girls and boys.
Today’s launch was incredibly powerful. Of course, we heard the statistics and heard how significant the problem is (a third of parents of children with diabetes reported impaired emotional well-being). And we heard about why this sort of work is important. But for me, and I suspect most people in attendance this morning, the most powerful moments were when we heard from Ryan Lange and Freya Wickenden, two young people living with diabetes. Both spoke beautifully about the role diabetes plays in their lives. Freya’s mum, Dallas, also spoke and shared some insights into parenting a child with diabetes.
As I said in my presentation at the launch – I can speak about this for hours and hours. I am a passionate advocate for all people with diabetes, but the vulnerability we see so often in young people with diabetes has meant that this has become a focus area of my work. But my words are insignificant and unimportant. It’s the words from young people living with diabetes that are central to understand what they are facing. Here is just some of what they told us.
The Diabetes MILES Youth report – was funded by the National Diabetes Services Scheme, and initiative of the Australian Government administered by Diabetes Australia. The study was conducted in collaboration with Australia Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes. The Diabetes MILES Youth project is part of the Young People with Diabetes National Diabetes Program for which I am Program Manager.