A new online directory lists mental health providers with special training or experience related to diabetes, in a joint project between the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Launched in April 2018, the directory — billed as the Mental Health Provider Directory Listing by the ADA — includes over 100 mental health professionals who completed a course in 2017 called the ADA-APA Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program.
As an alternative to the course provided by the ADA and APA, mental health providers can demonstrate two or more years of experience treating people with diabetes. To qualify for the directory, providers must also be professional members of the ADA and currently licensed in their field.
Registration is currently open for two instances of the Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program in 2018: one on June 21 in advance of the ADA’s 78th Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida, and another on August 12 during the APA 2018 convention in San Francisco.
The new directory “is a vital resource, connecting people in need of care with providers specially trained in diabetes,” notes William T. Cefalu, MD, the ADA’s chief scientific, medical and mission officer. “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.”
Training in diabetes is especially valuable to mental health providers because “sometimes the symptoms of diabetes are the same as symptoms of depression — things like low energy or feeling lethargic, and sometimes sleep problems,” according to Doug Tynan, PhD, the APA’s director of integrated health care.
Tynan says that primary-care providers benefit especially from the new directory, since it offers assurance that “when they refer a patient, they know they’re referring to a mental health provider who understands diabetes.”
Treatment approaches for mental health conditions may differ in patients with diabetes, Tynan notes, since “we’re not always dealing with two separate diseases, depression and diabetes — often, some of the manifestations of diabetes are the depressive symptoms.” As a concrete example, he mentions that psychotherapy and behavioral activation are often the preferred treatment for depression in people with diabetes, since the benefits of antidepressants may be limited by drug interactions.
Routine screenings for “psychosocial factors” in people with diabetes, with referral to a mental health provider when appropriate, were first recommended by the ADA in 2016 and were included in the group’s 2017 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes.
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