How to Fit Diabetes Management Into Your Lifestyle

By: Priscilla Thomas

Growing up, my siblings and I spent our summers in North Carolina with friends and family. As I got older, I started to realize that many of our relatives suffered from the complications of diabetes such as blindness, kidney disease, and heart disease. I often wondered if they had access to the resources they needed —could it have made a difference in managing their diabetes and preventing complications?

Diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) services are one of the resources that can help improve your diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol; lower the risk of diabetes complications; reduce hospital admissions; and improve your overall health. 

Whether you are newly diagnosed or have had diabetes for years, DSMES services can help you find ways to manage your diabetes that fit your lifestyle. 

Although we know the benefits of DSMES, the number of people with diabetes who access these services is very low (only half of adults with diabetes). TLC-MD’s goal is to increase awareness and reduce barriers so that people with diabetes have easier access to these services. DSMES is covered by many insurance plans. If the cost of the services is a concern for you, there are also free or low-cost resources available. To get started with DSMES, ask your healthcare provider for a referral

There are four key times to ask for a referral to DSMES services:

  • When you are first diagnosed with diabetes.
  • During your annual checkup or if your lab results or other health goals are not within range. 
  • When you have a new concern, new medications, or develop a new complication such as neuropathy (numbness in your feet), heart disease, or kidney disease. 
  • When you have a hospital admission or Emergency Department visit.

When you participate in DSMES services, you will:

  • Work with a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (DCES) to set and track goals that will work for you. 
  • Improve or learn new knowledge, skills, and tools to help you feel more confident with managing your diabetes.
  • Develop and practice problem-solving skills to fit diabetes care into your daily routine. 
  • Learn how to get the support you need from your family, friends, and healthcare team.

DSMES services focus on seven key self-care behaviors:

  • Healthy Coping: Find the support you need and identify ways to reduce stress.
  • Healthy Eating: Learn the common myths about healthy eating and how to create an eating plan that meets your needs. 
  • Being Active: Discover how to include activities you enjoy in your daily routine.
  • Taking Medication: Learn tips to take medications as prescribed and how medications work together.
  • Monitoring: Know if you are meeting your treatment goals and if adjustments may be needed.
  • Problem-Solving: Identify problems, find solutions, and develop a plan to take action.
  • Reducing Risks: Take steps to lower your risk of developing complications.

No matter how long you’ve had diabetes, diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) can help you fit diabetes management into your lifestyle and make a difference in your overall health. Remember: There are four key times to ask for a referral; DSMES can help you gain the knowledge, skills, tools, and support you need to manage your diabetes; and a diabetes care and education specialist will help you develop or improve seven key self-care behaviors. Sometimes getting access to DSMES services can be challenging. You don’t have to do this alone. TLC-MD is here to support you and connect you to the services you need so you can thrive with your diabetes.

To learn more:

How to Support a Loved One in a Substance Use and/or Mental Health Crisis

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 and ask for the Mobile Response Team (MRT) or chat at 988lifeline.org.

Mental health and/or substance use crises can affect anyone, including our friends and family. When a loved one is facing such challenges, it’s crucial to provide support, empathy, and access to appropriate resources. In Maryland, several organizations and services are dedicated to helping individuals and families navigate these difficult situations. 

Learn how you can support a loved one in a mental health and/or substance use crisis in Maryland and which organizations can provide assistance.

Recognize the Signs

The first step in supporting a loved one is recognizing the signs of a mental health and/or substance use crisis. These signs can vary depending on the individual and the specific crisis, but some common indicators include:

  • Expressing thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • Sudden and extreme changes in behavior or mood.
  • Isolation from friends and family.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and responsibilities.
  • Increased substance use or dependency.
  • Disrupted sleep patterns.

Initiate a Conversation

Approaching a loved one in crisis can be challenging, but starting a conversation is crucial. Choose a private, comfortable setting and express your concern in a calm manner and without judgment. Be an active listener and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings. Remember that your role is primarily to offer a listening ear, support, and understanding.

Encourage Professional Help

In many cases, professional assistance is necessary for individuals experiencing a mental health and/or substance use crisis. Encourage your loved one to seek help from mental health professionals, therapists, or addiction specialists. If they are reluctant, offer to assist in finding suitable resources and making appointments.

Crisis Helplines

Several crisis helplines in Maryland can provide immediate support for individuals and their loved ones. Two prominent options are:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call or text 988 and ask for the Mobile Response Team (MRT) or chat at 988lifeline.org. This national hotline connects individuals with crisis counselors who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and mental health emergencies.
  • Maryland Crisis Hotline: Dial 211 and press 1 for information, referral, and crisis intervention. This statewide helpline provides access to trained crisis counselors 24/7. They can assist with crisis intervention, provide information on local resources, and offer emotional support. 

Reach Out to Local Organizations

Maryland has several organizations that focus on mental health and/or substance use support. Here are a few:

  • NAMI Maryland (National Alliance on Mental Illness): NAMI Maryland offers resources, support groups, and education programs for individuals and families. They have local chapters throughout the state.
  • Maryland Behavioral Health Administration (BHA): BHA oversees behavioral health services in Maryland and can connect you with resources, treatment options, and crisis support services.
  • SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a treatment locator tool that can help you find nearby mental health and/or substance use treatment facilities.

If you are a resident in Southern Maryland in need of mental health and/or substance use services, contact the following local government organizations:

You can support your loved ones if they are experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. Remember: Recognize the signs, initiate a conversation, and encourage professional help. Use crisis helplines and reach out to local organizations for guidance. Together, we can provide the necessary support and resources to help our loved ones on their path to recovery and better mental health.

Transformational Approach to Behavioral Health

In recent years, communities across the nation have been grappling with the challenge of responding effectively to behavioral health crises. Law enforcement and other emergency responders often find themselves unable to provide the best care for individuals experiencing mental health issues. 

In Prince George’s County, Maryland, however, a groundbreaking transformational approach to mental health is changing the game. By establishing a comprehensive behavioral health continuum, the county is not only addressing this critical issue holistically but also setting a shining example for others to follow.

The Challenge of Emergency Behavioral Health Crises

Emergency Crisis Services have skyrocketed in our society. Yet, the responders who are first on the scene, such as law enforcement and 911 personnel, frequently do not have the specialized training needed to handle these sensitive situations. The result is a gap in the quality of care for people experiencing mental health challenges during these emergencies.

Prince George’s County Leading the Way

Recognizing the need for a transformative solution, Prince George’s County has taken the lead in redefining how mental health crises are handled within its community. The county’s approach focuses on providing accessible, appropriate, and compassionate care through every step of the crisis process.

The Crisis Continuum of Care

Prince George’s County’s transformational approach to mental health crisis revolves around a well-structured crisis continuum of care. This continuum is designed to guide residents through the process of receiving the right care at the right time:

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Step 1: Call 988, the National Suicide & Prevention Lifeline

The first step emphasizes prevention and support. By encouraging individuals to reach out to the National Suicide & Prevention Lifeline at 988, Prince George’s County ensures that those in need have immediate access to trained professionals who can provide essential guidance and support.

Step 2: The Mobile Response Team

Understanding the importance of in-person intervention, the county has established six Mobile Response Teams. These teams are comprised of mental health clinicians who respond to crisis situations in-person as needed. By calling (301) 429-2185, residents can request the presence of a mental health professional who can assess the situation and provide necessary interventions.

Step 3: The Dyer Care Center

Recognizing the need for a dedicated crisis facility, Prince George’s County is projected to  open the Dyer Care Center in the late fall of 2023. This facility specializes in emergency crisis stabilization for individuals facing mental health, behavioral health, and/or substance use concerns. The center aims to provide a safe and supportive environment for those in crisis, ensuring they receive the appropriate level of care and attention.

Step 4: Mindoula

To provide continuous support beyond the immediate crisis, TLC-MD has partnered with Mindoula. This organization offers round-the-clock virtual support and assistance to eligible individuals dealing with chronic mental health issues, some physical health challenges, and social well-being concerns. Eligible patients must bereferred to Mindoula from participating hospitals, ensuring a seamless transition from crisis care to ongoing support.

Harnessing the Power of Information: TLC-MD’s Crisis Continuum Videos

Prince George’s County is also harnessing the power of information distribution to ensure its community is well-informed about these critical services. The TLC-MD Crisis Continuum Videos, available on YouTube, provide an insightful look into the county’s approach to mental health crisis intervention. Check them out below.

A Model for Revolutionizing Mental Health 

Prince George’s County’s transformational approach to mental health crisis intervention follows the Crisis Now best practices and hopes to be  a model for other communities to follow. By creating a comprehensive crisis continuum of care, the county is ensuring that residents in need receive timely, appropriate, and compassionate support. 

This approach not only enhances the well-being of individuals in crisis but also relieves the burden on law enforcement and emergency responders, allowing them to focus on their core duties. As communities deal with the increasing demand for mental health services, Prince George’s County will serve as a beacon of innovation and compassion in the realm of mental health support.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, immediate help is available. Call the Mobile Response Team (MRT) at (301) 429-2185 or call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat 988lifeline.org

5 Signs You Should Join a Lifestyle Change Program

Typically, when we get some scary news from our healthcare provider about our blood work numbers being too high or off, it can be just the spark we need to take better care of our health.

If you’re concerned about diabetes and what it can do to your health, there are proactive (and easy) steps to prevent this chronic condition and lead a healthier life. One way is to join a Diabetes Prevention Program.

In Southern Maryland, there are several organizations offering such programs, and today we’ll be highlighting 5 reasons why you should consider joining one, especially with one of TLC-MD Diabetes Prevention Program partner organizations.

1.- You’re Struggling with Excess Weight

Carrying excess weight, especially around the waist, is a significant risk factor for diabetes. If you’re struggling with weight management, a Diabetes Prevention Program can provide you with the tools and support needed to shed those extra pounds in a sustainable and healthy manner.

2.- You Have a Family History of Diabetes

If diabetes runs in your family, you might be at a higher risk of developing the condition yourself. You can che. ck your diabetes risk in this link. Family history, combined with certain lifestyle factors, can significantly increase your risk for diabetes. By joining a Diabetes Prevention Program, you’ll learn how to manage these risk factors effectively and adopt a lifestyle that reduces your chances of developing diabetes.

3.- You Lead a Sedentary Lifestyle

If your daily routine involves long hours of sitting, whether at work or home, you could be increasing your diabetes risk. Lack of physical activity is a major contributor to the development of type 2 diabetes. Participating in a Diabetes Prevention Program will introduce you to simple ways to increase your physical activity that can be easily incorporated into your routine, helping you stay active and reduce your risk.

4.- Your Diet Needs Improvement

Unhealthy eating habits, especially a diet high in processed foods, sugary beverages, and excessive calories, can contribute to obesity and diabetes. If you find it challenging to maintain a balanced diet, a Diabetes Prevention Program can guide you through making healthier food choices, creating meal plans, and managing portion sizes, all of which can help with diabetes prevention.

5.- You’re Committed to Positive Change

Commitment is key to the success of any lifestyle change program. If you’re truly motivated to transform your habits and reduce your diabetes risk, then a Diabetes Prevention Program can offer you the guidance, education, and community support you need to stay on track, achieve your health goals to feel and live better.

We invite you to check out our partner organizations and their Diabetes Prevention Program Calendar and see what fits your schedule. Click here for upcoming classes.

What If There Isn’t a Cohort Scheduled?

If you’re unable to join a scheduled cohort, don’t worry. There are still steps you can take to prioritize your health:

  • Healthy Eating: Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Reduce your intake of sugary and processed foods.
  • Physical Activity: Incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week. Break up long periods of sitting with short walks.
  • Stress Management: Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to reduce stress and your blood sugar levels.
  • Regular Check-ups: Schedule regular visits with your healthcare provider to monitor your health, including blood sugar levels.

Don’t wait for diabetes to become a reality in your life. Take charge of your health today by considering one of the Diabetes Prevention Programs offered by TLC-MD’s partner organizations. To learn more about the available cohorts and join a program, visit this link. Your journey to a healthier future starts now.

Typically, when we get some scary news from our healthcare provider about our blood work numbers being too high or off, it can be just the spark we need to take better care of our health.  If you’re concerned about diabetes and what it can do to your health, there are proactive (and easy) steps to prevent this chronic condition and lead a healthier life. One way is to join a Diabetes Prevention Program.  In Southern Maryland, there are several organizations offering such programs, and today we’ll be highlighting 5 reasons why you should consider joining one, especially with one of TLC-MD Diabetes Prevention Program partner organizations.
  1. You’re Struggling with Excess Weight
Carrying excess weight, especially around the waist, is a significant risk factor for diabetes. If you’re struggling with weight management, a Diabetes Prevention Program can provide you with the tools and support needed to shed those extra pounds in a sustainable and healthy manner.
  1. You Have a Family History of Diabetes
If diabetes runs in your family, you might be at a higher risk of developing the condition yourself. You can check your diabetes risk in this link. Family history, combined with certain lifestyle factors, can significantly increase your risk for diabetes. By joining a Diabetes Prevention Program, you’ll learn how to manage these risk factors effectively and adopt a lifestyle that reduces your chances of developing diabetes.
  1. You Lead a Sedentary Lifestyle
If your daily routine involves long hours of sitting, whether at work or home, you could be increasing your diabetes risk. Lack of physical activity is a major contributor to the development of type 2 diabetes. Participating in a Diabetes Prevention Program will introduce you to simple ways to increase your physical activity that can be easily incorporated into your routine, helping you stay active and reduce your risk.
  1. Your Diet Needs Improvement
Unhealthy eating habits, especially a diet high in processed foods, sugary beverages, and excessive calories, can contribute to obesity and diabetes. If you find it challenging to maintain a balanced diet, a Diabetes Prevention Program can guide you through making healthier food choices, creating meal plans, and managing portion sizes, all of which can help with diabetes prevention.
  1. You’re Committed to Positive Change
Commitment is key to the success of any lifestyle change program. If you’re truly motivated to transform your habits and reduce your diabetes risk, then a Diabetes Prevention Program can offer you the guidance, education, and community support you need to stay on track, achieve your health goals to feel and live better. We invite you to check out our partner organizations and their Diabetes Prevention Program Calendar and see what fits your schedule. Click here for upcoming classes. What If There Isn’t a Cohort Scheduled? If you’re unable to join a scheduled cohort, don’t worry. There are still steps you can take to prioritize your health:
  • Healthy Eating: Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Reduce your intake of sugary and processed foods.
  • Physical Activity: Incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week. Break up long periods of sitting with short walks.
  • Stress Management: Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to reduce stress and your blood sugar levels.
  • Regular Check-ups: Schedule regular visits with your healthcare provider to monitor your health, including blood sugar levels.
Don’t wait for diabetes to become a reality in your life. Take charge of your health today by considering one of the Diabetes Prevention Programs offered by TLC-MD’s partner organizations. To learn more about the available cohorts and join a program, visit this link or call (301) 237-6677. Your journey to a healthier future starts now.

Six Organizations in Maryland Striving for Equity and Access for Minority Mental Health

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, an opportunity dedicated to shedding light recognizing and addressing mental health concerns within minority communities – a step towards realizing a healthcare system that is truly equitable and culturally responsive. 

In Maryland, various organizations are dedicated to supporting and advocating for minority mental health. By raising awareness, providing resources, and fostering inclusive spaces, each of these organizations play a pivotal role in improving mental wellbeing within marginalized communities. These notable organizations in Maryland are actively working towards addressing the unique challenges faced by minority populations in terms of mental health:

1. Mental Health Association of Maryland (MHAMD):

The Mental Health Association of Maryland is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting mental health and wellness across the state. MHAMD collaborates with local communities to eliminate stigma, raise awareness, and provide education and resources for individuals. They actively work to reduce disparities in mental healthcare access and offer culturally appropriate services that cater to the needs of the most vulnerable individuals in Maryland.

2. Black Mental Health Alliance (BMHA):

The Black Mental Health Alliance is dedicated to improving the mental health and wellbeing of Black communities in Maryland. They focus on reducing mental health disparities through education, advocacy, and support services. BMHA offers culturally relevant programs, workshops, and resources that empower individuals and families to address mental health challenges. Their initiatives also aim to dismantle systemic barriers that impede access to quality mental healthcare.

3. Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI):

The Asian American Health Initiative strives to promote mental wellness within the Asian American community in Maryland. Recognizing the unique cultural factors and challenges faced by this population, AAHI offers linguistically and culturally appropriate mental health programs, workshops, and support services. Through community engagement and collaboration, AAHI aims to reduce stigma, improve access to care, and enhance mental health outcomes among Asian Americans.

4. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Maryland):

NAMI Maryland is the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), dedicated to providing support, education, and advocacy for individuals living with mental health conditions. Their multicultural outreach programs focus on addressing the needs of diverse communities, including racial and ethnic minorities. NAMI Maryland offers culturally sensitive support groups, educational resources, and workshops to promote mental health awareness and empower minority populations.

5. Casa de Maryland:

Casa de Maryland is a community-based organization focused on advancing the rights and wellbeing of immigrant communities in Maryland. While their primary focus is on immigration-related issues, primarily for Latino immigrants, Casa de Maryland recognizes the intersectionality of mental health and the immigrant experience. They offer support services, referrals, and community resources to address the mental health needs of immigrants and create a safe and culturally-inclusive environment.

6. The Center for LGBTQ+ Health Equity:

The Center for LGBTQ+ Health Equity at Chase Brexton Health Care is dedicated to promoting health equity within the LGBTQ+ community in Maryland. They provide LGBTQ+specific mental health services, support groups, and resources to address the unique mental health challenges faced by diverse sexual and gender minorities. The center actively advocates for LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and works towards eliminating barriers to mental healthcare access.

If you are a resident in Southern Maryland in need of mental health and/or substance misuse services contact the following local government organizations:

• Prince George’s County Local Behavioral Health Authority

• Calvert County Local Behavioral Health Authority

• Charles County Local Behavioral Health Authority

• St. Mary’s County Local Behavioral Health Authority

TLC-MD believes in and advocates for minority mental health organizations to help build a society that embraces inclusivity and values equity. These organizations in Maryland are at the forefront of this important work – striving to eliminate disparities, reduce stigma, and provide culturally inclusive mental health support and resources to these oftentimes marginalized communities. By supporting and partnering with these organizations, we can work collectively towards a more equitable and inclusive mental healthcare system in Maryland and surrounding communities.