Young adult and parent peer mentors can be role models who not only normalise experiences of living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) but can act as symbols of hope, new Children’s Diabetes Centre research has found.
In a recent project, 10 parents of adolescents with type 1 diabetes undertook training to be mentors at the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre.
These parent mentors were then paired with parents of newly diagnosed adolescents based on where they lived, age and gender of their children.
Ten young adults with T1D were also trained to be mentors and paired with adolescents with type 1 diabetes.
Lead investigator Dr Leanne Fried said mentees identified lots of positives from the eight-week mentoring project.
These included mentors providing a model of what life could be like, sharing of similar experiences, direct learning, and having someone to talk to, she said.
“The mentors also found they benefited from having a mentee, saying that the relationship had reciprocal benefits, that they learnt about their strengths and were reminded that they had come a long way in their own understanding of managing type 1 diabetes,” Dr Fried said.
Dr Fried said based on the pilot program’s results, researchers were now seeking funding for a large-scale type 1 diabetes parent mentor project that could be translated into the hospital system.
Here is the feedback from mentees involved in the pilot program:
“Great having someone who is through the initial shell shock stage which I was still in when I met her and seeing that she is living a completely normal life was really re-assuring.”
“Meeting her strapping son who is doing lots of things made me feel good for my son’s future.”
“Your family and friends are of course very important but they can’t replace another parent that is going through similar things to you so from that aspect it was very satisfying.”
“It’s someone who can relate to things with which you couldn’t if you just had a non-type one to talk to.” (adolescent mentee)