HI, I'M DR. MARK HEYMAN

Episode #24: T1D in Underserved Communities

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In this episode…

Type 1 diabetes doesn’t know race, it doesn’t know your economic status, and it doesn’t know where you are from.

We don’t live in a bubble with T1D. Everyone living with T1D has a story, with different experiences and backgrounds they bring to their life with diabetes. Everybody’s story is going to be different.

Everyone with T1D has a story that matters!

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In this episode, I talk to Brandon A. Denson about the unique mental health challenges for people with T1D from underserved communities. Brandon grew up in Detroit and walked on the Michigan State football team after being diagnosed with T1D when he was seventeen. He has made it his mission to ensure everyone with T1D has the education, support, and resources they need to thrive.

Brandon is a co-founder of Bolus Maximus, a non-profit organization focused on creating safe spaces for men and people from underserved communities who live with T1D.

Here are my key takeaways from my conversation with Brandon:

T1D does not discriminate

Type 1 diabetes can impact anyone, no matter their background. On that same note, just because we all have T1D doesn’t mean we all face the same challenges or need the same thing. What I need may not be what someone else needs, especially if their circumstances and background are different from mine. Each person’s environment influences their experience with T1D. We have to remember this if we are going to meet everyone’s mental health needs in the diabetes community.

We need people who look like us

To be truly inclusive, the T1D community needs to make sure everyone with T1D feels like they belong. If we don’t, people won’t feel welcome, they won’t engage, and they won’t get the support they need. This means making sure everyone with T1D has someone they can identify with and someone who looks like them. Everyone with T1D needs someone who understands us, which means both our background and our experience with T1D.

Don’t make assumptions 

We should never make assumptions about what other people with T1D need. Instead, we need to ask them what they need. And keep asking. We need to continually work to understand each person’s needs and never stop trying to understand. Only through understanding – and humility – can the diabetes community be inclusive and welcoming to everyone with diabetes – and effectively address everyone’s diabetes-related mental health needs.

You can find Brandon on Instagram @brandon.a.denson.

You can find Bolus Maximus on Instagram @bolus.maximus or on the web at https://www.bolusm.org.