People with diabetes experience high rates of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. And if you ask a person with diabetes what the most difficult part of having diabetes is, the answer will often be the emotional distress it causes. Sure, the pricks and pokes are unpleasant, but they can pale in comparison to the emotional burden of diabetes. Diabetes never lets you rest. It can make you feel like a failure. It tasks you with doing the impossible. For some people it’s embarrassing or makes them feel ashamed. It turns eating into math problems. It can cause panic and frustration. And there is always so much guilt. Why did I eat that? Why didn’t I bolus? Why didn’t I try harder to lower my A1C? Diabetes adds uncertainty to life, and it can be frustrating to try to explain that to someone who just doesn’t get it. And, often, even health care professionals don’t understand just how complex and how all-consuming our diabetes emotions can be.
Luckily, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is doing something about that. The ADA has partnered with the American Psychological Association (APA) to train more than 100 mental health providers or psychologists in diabetes-specific education. These professionals are listed in new online directory.
The ADA’s press release states:
Acknowledging the complex environmental, social, behavioral and emotional issues?known as psychosocial factors?that impact people with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) partnered to build the ADA-APA Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program to prepare mental health providers with the knowledge and tools to treat these unique mental health challenges. The first professionals to complete the program in 2017, totaling more than 100, are now listed in The Mental Health Provider Referral Directory (Directory), a publicly accessible, online database launched this month.
People with diabetes experience higher rates of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Acknowledging the limited number of licensed mental health providers with the experience to meet those needs, the ADA-APA partnership seeks to expand the number of professionals with knowledge of diabetes-related psychosocial factors, a growing need for the diabetes community.
Licensed mental health professionals listed in the Directory have completed the ADA-APA Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program, consisting of a 7-hour, in-person course offered in 2017 at the ADA’s 77th Scientific Sessions or at the APA’s 2017 Annual Convention; a 5-hour online course; and completion of knowledge exams after each course. Licensed providers may also be included in the Directory if they can demonstrate at least two years of professional experience addressing the mental health needs of people with diabetes.
Registration reached capacity for the first two offerings of the program in 2017, resulting in more than 100 mental health providers from 26 states being eligible for inclusion in the Directory. Two additional trainings will be held in 2018—at the ADA’s 78th Scientific Sessions on Thursday, June 21, and at the APA’s Annual Meeting on Sunday, August 5. The Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program and Directory are supported by a generous contribution from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
The ADA first recommended routine screenings for psychosocial factors in people with diabetes and referral to a mental health provider with experience in diabetes when necessary in 2016, and the recommendations were included in the 2017 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, the ADA’s annual guide to diabetes care, which was published in December 2016.
“As our first position statement on psychosocial care for people with diabetes in 2016 makes clear, mental health is a critical element of diabetes care. The psychosocial factors that people with diabetes face?which can develop from anxiety, food insecurity, financial hurdles to their care, and many other issues?require attention and support from professionals who understand the unique, day-to-day challenges of managing this chronic illness,” said ADA’s Chief Scientific, Medical and Mission Officer William T. Cefalu, MD. “The Directory is a vital resource, connecting people in need of care with providers specially trained in diabetes. We’re excited to offer this resource to the public and to increase the number of mental health professionals with the knowledge and training about the daily burdens of living with diabetes.”