Jake's story: peer support groups prove vital to diabetes management - Diabetes WA
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Living with diabetes can be overwhelming and for the 131 000 Western Australians living with diabetes, it can take its toll.

Jake O’Brien was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2015, however, he still admits there are times when his diabetes can get him down.

“I have gone through periods in which my diabetes has been more challenging than usual and cause me increased stress,” he says. “Sometimes diabetes can be more physically and mentally demanding at times and cause an increased load of stress.”

This year’s National Diabetes Week is running from 12 – 18 July and the theme is Diabetes and Mental Wellbeing.

The campaign highlights the extra stress people living with diabetes may experience, especially in current COVID19 environment.

“Living with diabetes, for the most part, is a completely manageable condition that simply requires a bit more planning than people without diabetes, says Jake. However, there are days that diabetes can be challenging when blood sugar management is a bit off”

“Riding the rollercoaster of fluctuating blood sugars can seem like a never-ending ride, but it’s important to put this in perspective and remember that you’re doing the best you can managing a disease that at times can seem incredibly difficult.” He continues.

Besides his positive outlook, Jake manages his stress with a range of strategies, like exercise, keeping in touch with his family, friends and healthcare team. He is also the Care Coordinator for the Perth Diabetes Care Young Adult Diabetes Committee.

According to some studies, members of diabetes peer support groups have experienced a greater reduction in HbA1c levels, better blood glucose level management and were better able to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviours and stick with them.

The Young Adults Diabetes Committee is a peer support group that regularly meets around Perth for catch ups and diabetes educational seminars.

“Peer support groups are vital for people living with diabetes,” says Jake. “It helps me to share stories with people who truly ‘get it’ and learn more about how other people manage their diabetes on a daily basis.”

Deb Schofield, General Manager of Health Services, agrees with this sentiment. “There are many benefits of joining a peer support group, led by others with diabetes,” she says, “We know that staying connected with others with diabetes can lead to a greater understanding of the condition, help people to feel understood and lessen the risk of diabetes burnout.”

Diabetes WA is proud to support all Diabetes Peer Support Groups in WA by providing resources and information to support the group with their activities. If you’re interested more information on peer support groups in WA, please visit: https://www.diabeteswa.com.au/manage-your-diabetes/live-well/join-a-support-group/

 

Jake O'Brien talks peer support groups during National Diabetes Week 2020

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