JDRF Canada announces new projects supported by the Mental Health and T1D Community Grants

People who live with diabetes are at an increased risk of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and diabetes distress (the feelings of stress, guilt and being overwhelmed that can result from diabetes management). There are diverse mental health needs across the type 1 diabetes (T1D) community in Canada, and a common theme among members is that greater mental health supports are needed. This need varies widely, from dealing with feelings of being overwhelmed when newly diagnosed, to battling the loneliness and isolation that may come from living with a chronic condition for years, and that it can feel like no one understands.

As part of JDRF Canada’s Mental Health Strategy for T1D launched in 2021 and a key fundraising pillar of the $100M Campaign to Accelerate, in May 2023 we opened the JDRF Canada Mental Health and T1D Community Grants Program as a new funding opportunity. This incubator initiative is designed to provide seed funding to organizations ready to transform innovative ideas into successful projects to support the mental health and wellness of the T1D community.

We received many excellent applications and are grateful to our diverse review panel made up of Canadians with lived and/or professional experience of T1D who helped decide which projects were to be funded. These projects, awarded up to $20,000 each will take place over an 18-month period. Each is unique, offering creative and interactive ways to improve mental wellness among the T1D community.

Partnerships are a crucial component of JDRF Canada’s Mental Health Strategy, and we are proud to be partnering with a variety of organizations across Canada to support these new community projects, and expand the capacity and diversity of supports for mental health and well-being in the T1D community.

“Mental wellness is central to living well with T1D, but we hear from our community time and time again that there is just not enough support for mental health and diabetes within or outside of the health care system,” said Jessica Diniz, President & CEO of JDRF Canada. “Each of these important new projects is a shining example of much-needed support for the T1D community, and we are excited to be enabling them as part of JDRF Canada’s goal to connect more people with the supports they need for improved mental health and wellness. By working as partners with other like-minded organizations, we can reduce duplication and achieve more for the T1D community.”

Bridging the Gap: Mental Health Integration into 2024’s Slipstream Programming​

Connected in Motion (ON)​

An established and well-respected diabetes camp for adults will add mental health programming to their traditional weekend offerings of outdoor pursuits and workshops on adult-life with T1D held in different locations across Canada. The project will create expert-led workshops as well as tools and resources for participants. Workshops and resources will cover a range of topics relevant to adults living with T1D, including body image, aging, and the impacts of the condition on relationships and family dynamics.

CuriosiT1D: Getting Curious about Diabetes & Mental Health

Edmonton Diabetes & High Risk Foot Clinic partnered with Pineapple Therapy (AB)​

This project will develop an 8-week psychoeducation course to teach people living with T1D about the intersection between their condition and their mental well-being. The self-paced course is based on the practices of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Participants will build skills to increase resilience, reduce anxiety, and better manage their condition with self-compassion.

OPEN – D: Onboarding Platform for the Education of New patients with Diabetes

McGill University partnered with GoldBug Interactive (QC)​

Creation of a bilingual (French/English) webcomic for newly diagnosed children designed to be an engaging resource for kids aged 7-12 adjusting to life with T1D. The webcomic will cover topics including managing the routines of diabetes care, talking about your diabetes with classmates, and will also demonstrate healthy coping skills for managing the ‘big feelings’ that come with T1D.

« Bien dans ma tête et mon diabète »​

Université de Montréal (QC)​

This project will produce a collection of short format French videos for Youtube, Instagram, and Tiktok that combat stigma around mental health and T1D while also sharing reliable information and resources for those managing their own health. Videos will be fact-checked by experts (mental health professionals, doctors, and people living with T1D) to prevent misinformation or biases often found in similar formats.

Enhancing Resiliency for Families Living with T1D through Empowering Mental Health Program​

Langs Community Health Centre (ON)​

A community health hub will be developed to include a variety of in-person programming to address the psychosocial needs of a recent influx of people with T1D in their care​. The project will expand their Diabetes Education Program to cover mental health and well-being supports through educational workshops, peer support, and facilitated group activities to foster self-efficacy for tweens through adults.

If you are interested in learning how to support these projects, or JDRF Canada’s Mental Health Strategy, please contact Jen Bavli at jbavli@jdrf.ca.

For questions about the Mental Health and T1D Community Grants Program, please contact grants@jdrf.ca.

Learn more about our Mental Health Strategy and mental health research projects.

2023 Year in Review 

If 2022 was a year of hope, 2023 was one of turning that hope into progress. And thanks to our incredible community of donors, volunteers, and supporters – we saw significant progress across all areas of type 1 diabetes (T1D) research and developed an even closer relationship with the amazing T1D community.   

From the generosity of our donors, JDRF Canada had another transformative year– dedicating substantive funding to research, strengthening our partnerships in academia, continuing to support newly diagnosed families, while never losing focus on our goal of finding cures for T1D while improving the lives of people affected by the disease today. 

Highlights from the past year included: 

T1D research highlights 

In Cell Replacement: 

In Disease-Modifying Therapies: 

In Treatments to Improve Lives: 

  • The JDRF-CIHR Partnership to Defeat Diabetes announcement of 4 new grants in Precision Medicine, the goal of which is to get the right treatment to the right person at the right time. 
  • Funding programs devoted to improving mental health care and outcomes for people with T1D, including the CIHR-JDRF Mental Health grants 

In Screening: 

  • In collaboration with CIHR, JDRF announced the development of CanScreen, a new Canadian T1D screening consortium led by Dr. Diane Wherrett.  
  • JDRF continues to help facilitate screening for relatives of those with T1D at Sick Kids Hospital via TrialNet 

In Clinical Trials: 

  • A renewed focus on helping raise awareness of the importance of clinical trials for moving forward critical T1D research, through a social media campaign and new webpage 
  • A new tool to make finding T1D clinical trials recruiting in Canada easier and simpler – due to launch early 2024. 

To read more about research updates, please visit www.jdrf.ca/blog

2023 was truly a year of incredible progress and momentum both in type 1 diabetes research and at JDRF. As we head into 2024 and the 50th anniversary of JDRF Canada, we reflect on how none of this would be possible without the support of our donors, volunteers and the incredible T1D community. Thank you! We truly believe that a world free from T1D is closer than ever