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Edmonton diabetes clinic adds mental health supports to tackle burnout

An Edmonton health clinic that specializes in diabetes care is putting an emphasis on mental health support for its patients.

“There weren’t many places I could direct patients to get help with their mental health, their anxiety, depression, burnout, as it relates to Type 1 diabetes,” said Dr. Daniel Shafran, an internal medicine specialist and co-founder of the Edmonton Diabetes & High Risk Foot Clinic.

“Those feelings are real, and they are common,” he said. “You can often see it on a patient’s face, the stress they are under.”

Shafran said that being diagnosed with diabetes is a “world-changing diagnosis” for many. He went on to explain that the condition requires constant attention, and there are no breaks. Shafran has now brought in a counsellor, who not only has the mental health background, but also lives with the disease herself.

Kayla Chorley was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 12 years old.

“Through my time, 23 years of living with this condition, it was very seldom that I was ever asked about my mental health and wellness,” she said. “This was the missing link, always in diabetes management and care.”

It’s one of the reasons she went into the field.

“It’s very common for individuals to feel burned out,” Chorley said. “Then diabetes management goes out the window.”

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Chorley described it as a “cyclical process,” diabetes management can causes strain on a person’s mental health, and when their mental health is strained, it can cause issues with blood sugar control.

“When it comes to mental health, we just want to make sure that we’re supporting that piece so that it doesn’t feel like they’re doing it alone,” Chorley said.

She added that it translates to other chronic conditions as well.

“Any chronic illness that requires time and energy, which is the majority,” Chorley said. “We want to make sure that mental health is supported in those areas.”

Susie Marano knows all too well the strains of living with Type 1 diabetes.

She was diagnosed more than five decades ago when she was in pre-school.

“It’s very taxing. It’s very exhausting,” she said.

Marano described experiencing two cases of serious diabetes burnout. In the first case, she said she had just moved out of her parent’s house.

“You have hormones, you have life changes you have all kinds of things,” she said. “You have to think about it all the time.”

“When I got out on my own, I thought ‘I can’t do this,’” Marano said. “I just got to the point that I thought, I can’t do this anymore, and a I let it go.”

She ended up in hospital with diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition.

Marano said the second time she experienced burnout, she was at home with two small boys and when it happened, she knew something had to change.

The former registered nurse hopes those in health care will take a closer look at mental health when dealing with their patients.

“They never asked me, as a person, are you okay? It was always, your blood sugars are horrible,” she said.

She hopes by sharing her own story, others won’t feel so alone.

“It can happen, and it will happen if you don’t educate yourself. If you don’t have a good support system and if you don’t understand that it’s ok to make a mistake,” she said.

Dr. Shafran has noticed a change in his patients beyond just their mental health.

“You can see the change with it comes to their mood, and their control,” he said.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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