The Support People with T1D Actually Need

The numbers are astounding. Research shows over 40% of people with T1D meet the clinical cutoff for diabetes distress. Even more have diabetes burnout and negative emotions associated with T1D.

Mental health support should be a part of the treatment for EVERYBODY with T1D. But the bigger question is, what kind of mental health treatment do people with T1D really need? The answer may not be what you think.

Think beyond therapy!

When we think about mental health treatment, we usually imagine someone sitting on a couch in a therapist’s office talking about their problems – and that is what some people with T1D need. The problem is therapy is not what most people with T1D need. When we think about mental health treatment for T1D, we need to think beyond therapy.

What support do people with T1D need?

To feel normal

People with T1D need to know that their experience is normal. T1D comes with lots of challenging emotions. They need to know that they are not weird, different, or weak for feeling whatever they feel. Knowing you are not alone in how you feel goes a long way.

People with T1D can share their experiences with others by:

Problem-solving skills

Living with T1D means having to solve problems every day. If you have trouble solving problems, it can make you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and even helpless. Finding ways to solve problems can give you the confidence you need to navigate the challenges of managing T1D.

People with T1D can learn problem-solving skills by:

Stress management skills

Life with T1D can be stressful. Finding healthy ways to manage stress can make T1D a lot more manageable.

People with T1D can learn to manage stress by:


T1D is NOT a do-it-yourself condition. Diabetes is tough, and doing it on your own without support makes it a whole lot more challenging. Having people in your life to support and encourage you can make T1D a lot easier to handle.

People with T1D can get support from:

How do I know if I need therapy or something else?

This is a great question, and there is not always a clear answer. Here are some general guidelines to think about as you try to figure out what kind of mental health support you need.

Do I need therapy?

Therapy is helpful for people with T1D with mental health challenges that make work, relationships, or managing diabetes difficult. For example, if you have a fear of low blood sugars or you don’t take insulin to lose weight, therapy is the best option. If you feel significant guilt and shame about diabetes, you are struggling with accepting that you have diabetes, or you were recently diagnosed with a complication, therapy can help.

Who needs resources beyond therapy?

Most of the time, people who live with the daily stress and emotional burden of T1D can get the resources they need to support their emotional well-being without therapy. If you feel burned out, overwhelmed, and frustrated by the daily hassles of living with T1D, but can still function and manage diabetes, beyond therapy resources may be the best option for you.

There’s good news!

It is easy to get overwhelmed trying to find what you need to support your mental health with T1D, but it doesn’t have to be! There are already lots of beyond therapy resources, and more are being created every day. The Diabetes Psychologist is working hard to create even more resources to support your emotional needs with T1D.

By re-imaging what mental health support for T1D looks like, people with T1D can get the help they need! 

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