Every month I get at least a couple calls/emails from people around the country asking if I know of any mental health providers with knowledge of diabetes in their area. Sometimes I have a name to give them, but more often than not I have to tell them that I don’t know of anyone – which makes me feel horrible. These are folks who really need help, and there’s no one in their area with the expertise to give them the treatment that they need.
The demand for diabetes-specific mental health services is increasing because, over the past several years, we’ve started talking a lot more about the relationship between diabetes and mental health. This is great news! Physicians, diabetes educators, and people with diabetes are becoming much more aware the impact of diabetes on quality of life and how mental health challenges can affect the self-care behaviors that are so important for good diabetes management. In December 2016, the American Diabetes Association put out their first position statement on the Psycho-social Care for People with Diabetes (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/39/12/2126).
This increased awareness has raised demand for mental health services for people with diabetes. The challenge is that it’s really hard to provide high-quality mental health treatment for people with diabetes without an understanding of diabetes, how it’s managed, and the common psychological and emotional challenges that living with diabetes involves. There simply aren’t enough mental health providers who have this specialized knowledge. We have a capacity problem, and this needs to change!
Recognizing that there aren’t enough specialized mental health providers to meet this increasing demand, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has partnered with the American Psychological Association (APA) to tackle this problem head on. Together, these two organizations have developed a 2-part continuing education program for licensed mental health professionals to help them become familiar with the psycho-social and emotional challenges of living with diabetes and gain a basic understanding of how to address these issue with their patients. The first part of this continuing education program will be a 7-hour in-person course that will be held at both the ADA convention in San Diego (June 9-13) and at the APA convention in Washington DC (August 3-6). After attending one of these seminars, there is an additional 5-hour online course. Once a licensed mental health provider has successfully completed this program, they’ll be eligible to be listed in the ADA Mental Health Provider Referral Directory on the ADA website.
I, along with some of the greatest minds in diabetes and mental health, was part of the working group that developed this program, so I know first-hand how impactful this program is going to be. If you are, or know of, a licensed mental health professional who wants to become more competent in meeting the mental health needs of people with diabetes, please consider taking part in this program. There’s more information in the link below:
I am really looking forward to the day when I can respond to the calls and emails I get by referring them to the ADA Mental Health Provider Referral Directory. Thanks to the ADA and APA, I am excited to say that day is coming soon!