Earlier today, ADA announced that it, in collaboration with the American Psychological Association, has received an $839,000 grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust for the first Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program. The program launched last month to increase the number of mental health providers knowledgeable about diabetes via a two-part diabetes continuing education agenda teaching diabetes management, the daily struggles people face, and effective interventions for this population. The first part of program, a seven-hour in-person course for >50 mental health professionals, took place at the recent 77th ADA Scientific Sessions. Part two will take place in early August at the APA Annual Convention in Washington D.C. We don’t know much more about the program, including who are the instructors (how great would it be to see Dr. Katharine Barnard or Bill Polonsky in front of that room?) Needless to say, we are so excited to see that these three major organizations are prioritizing one of the most frequently-overlooked, yet impactful, complications of life with diabetes. In diabetes patients, rates of major depressive disorder are two times that of the diabetes-free population. But it’s not only depression – chronic stress and anxiety from having to think about diabetes day-in, day-out (600 times per day, says Dr. Barnard) has deleterious effects all throughout the body. As former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy commented at SXSW, emotional wellbeing is not as the absence of mental illness, but a positive state of mind facilitating creativity, productivity, and healthy relationships. This program will hopefully, along with greater overall emphasis on psychosocial support in the 2017 ADA Standards of Care, be a catalyst for more conversation, better education, and eventually, better mental health outcomes in the diabetes populace.
-- by Brian Levine, Adam Brown, and Kelly Close