May 2, 2022, New York, NY – No one should be alone when it comes to kidney disease and in honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is highlighting its free mentoring and emotional support program, NKF Peers. Mental Health is as important as physical health, especially during these incredibly stressful times. Peers offers free mentoring for people at late-stage kidney disease (stages 4 and 5), on dialysis or who are kidney transplant recipients. Additionally, NKF Peers connects people interested in becoming living donors with someone who has donated a kidney. Talking to others who are living well with kidney disease is an emotional lifeline for many-providing hope, support, and letting them know they are not alone.
“Kidney disease can be complicated and frightening, especially for people who are new to kidney health issues,” said Kevin Longino, Chief Executive Officer of the NKF and a kidney transplant recipient. “It’s a difficult path but with NKF Peers, you don’t have to take that journey alone. Our peer mentors are here to listen and share their experiences with anyone facing dialysis or a kidney transplant.”
A recent NKF survey of kidney health professionals noted that COVID-19 has exacerbated the emotional stress for all people with kidney disease. COVID-19 has been a powerful reminder of the need for community and peer support. NKF Peers makes it very easy to connect at your convenience. NKF Peers mentors are trained to help others with the challenges of kidney disease. Using their own experiences, mentors help fellow patients who might feel isolated, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, including with how COVID-19 has impacted their lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all kidney patients who get COVID-19 may require hospitalization, intensive care, and a ventilator to help them breathe or they may even die. Data from the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology cites nearly one in six deaths (16%) in 2020 among active kidney transplant recipients in the United States were attributed to COVID-19. Moreover, COVID-19 was particularly brutal on dialysis (and transplant) patients, who are immune-suppressed, as well as communities of color.
During these challenging times, it’s important to connect with someone who has had similar experiences and can help improve a patient’s well-being and outlook on life as well as decrease feelings of isolation and depression while promoting self-management and relieving fears. Depression is common in people with kidney failure who receive dialysis, according to a 2019 PCORI study, so talking to someone through the NKF Peers mentoring program can help.
“I feel honored to be a NKF Peers mentor and share my experiences as a kidney transplant recipient by mentoring others going through what I went through years ago,” Pato Paez said. “The NKF Peers program was the only thing that help me keep it together leading up to my kidney transplant, so don’t try to go it alone. This mentoring program is here to help you navigate the journey.”
If you’re struggling with a recent late-stage diagnosis of kidney disease or you’re already on dialysis or will soon have a kidney transplant and would like to talk to a peer mentor, please don’t hesitate to call NKF Peers at 855.NKF.Peers (855.653.7337) or email us at NKFPeers@kidney.org. Follow us on social media with the hashtag #NKFPEERs. The first step to feeling better is admitting you need emotional support, which is only a phone call away. The NKF Peers mentoring program is here for you and ready to help! It’s free and simple.
About Kidney Disease
In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD)—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it. 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and family history. People of Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. Black/African American people are more than 4 times as likely as White people to have kidney failure. Hispanics/Latinos are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure.
About the National Kidney Foundation
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive, and longstanding patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S. For more information about NKF, visit www.kidney.org.