World Diabetes Day
Generally, diabetes, mental illness and poverty are viewed and treated as separate conditions, when in fact each can be a trigger or cause for the other.
Diabetes is a chronic and sometimes fatal disease characterized by elevated blood glucose. If not managed properly, Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can damage blood vessels, organs and nerves and can result in heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower limb amputation.
Cause and effect
Typical causes of diabetes include obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, family history and other lifestyle risk factors such as alcohol and substance abuse. In Canada, the number of those with diabetes is expected to rise to 4.2 million (10.8%) by 2020. Current estimates show that nearly one million Canadians have the disease but do not know it.
Statistically, those hit the hardest are Indigenous peoples, new Canadians, women and those living in poverty. Research shows that living in poverty can double or even triple the risk of developing the disease, even when healthy weight or physical activity is factored in.
The most vulnerable of Calgarians – our clients – are dealing with issues of food scarcity and poor nutrition choices due to lack of resources to afford and prepare fresh, healthy foods, and programs that promote physical activity, both of which are key to preventing or controlling the disease.
These Calgarians may also be dealing with homelessness or precarious housing (unaffordable, below standard) and are less likely to have, or afford, regular access to health care to diagnose and manage
diabetes and receive treatment for related health issues such as stress, excess weight and alcohol and substance abuse.
When diagnosed, the need for continual monitoring and treatment can become a major emotional stressor for the individual affected. If that person is also suffering the effects of poverty and homelessness, with limited or no access to healthcare, the stressors multiply accordingly.
Mood and anxiety disorders are particularly common in those with diabetes; more serious mental health issues, such as major depressive disorder or schizophrenia, elevate the risk of developing diabetes. All can affect one’s ability to cope with and care for their condition.
Mental wellness, a positive attitude, feeling like you can stay on top of the disease, and your ability to deal with stress, is critical to diabetes management.
The CUPS Primary Care Clinic is a low-barrier access to healthcare that ensures vulnerable Calgarians have a safe place to address their health needs, including diabetes, mental illness and addictions.
Please help us help those in need by donating to our #ShineALIght campaign.