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Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program Receives Nearly $1 Million Grant from Helmsley

More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and people with diabetes face multiple, complex environmental, social, behavioral, and emotional issues—known as psychosocial factors—that influence their health and ability to manage the disease. In collaboration with the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Diabetes Association’s (Association) first Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program, which was launched last month, has received an $839,000 grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to support the program.

“Psychosocial challenges, including mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, diabetes distress, and disordered eating have frequently been overlooked in diabetes care. Having supported the integration of psychosocial care for people with diabetes in our position statement Psychosocial Care for People with Diabetes and our Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes — 2017, we are excited to launch this program to increase the number of mental health providers knowledgeable about diabetes,” said Alicia McAuliffe-Fogarty, vice president of lifestyle management at the Association. “The lack of mental health providers experienced in caring for people with diabetes is a huge gap in our healthcare system. Thank you to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for supporting our efforts to increase the capacity of mental health providers with the important knowledge and expertise to provide care and support for people living with diabetes.”

The Association’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes — 2017 recommend routine screening for psychosocial challenges and encourage referral to a mental health provider with experience in diabetes when issues are identified. Unfortunately, the number of mental health professionals across the country trained in the challenges of diabetes management is very limited. The Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program addresses this by increasing capacity through a two-part diabetes continuing education program for licensed mental health providers. The program will teach mental health providers about diabetes management, the daily struggles people face, as well as effective interventions to treat people with diabetes experiencing mental health issues.

The first part of the education program, consisting of a seven-hour, in-person course, was offered during the Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions on June 8, and it reached registration capacity for the initial training of more than 50 mental health providers. The in-person portion of the course will also be offered at the APA Annual Convention, August 3-6, 2017, in Washington, D.C. After completion of the in-person course, an additional five-hour online course and knowledge exams, participants will receive a certificate of completion and eligibility for listing in the Association’s Mental Health Provider Referral Directory.

In November 2016, the Association issued its first position statement on psychosocial care for people with diabetes, providing comprehensive and specific guidelines based on factors including age, type of diabetes, and family support system. The guidelines focus on the most common mental health factors affecting people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, including diabetes distress, depression, anxiety, and disordered eating, and emphasize that diabetes management is more successful when lifestyle and emotional status are an integral component of routine diabetes care.

Additional information on the Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program can be found here.