Registration opens for ADA-APA Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program

Join a network of diabetes care providers and learn more about your patients who have diabetes.

By Jewel Edwards-Ashman

Maureen Monaghan, PhD, specializes in treating children and adolescents with chronic illnesses at Children’s National Health System in the Washington, D.C., area. Because of her expertise working with this population, Monaghan says she’s constantly getting referrals from providers and patients looking for a practicing psychologist or other mental health provider who understands the challenges of living with and managing diabetes.

“Health care providers who treat people with diabetes are identifying a need for mental health support, including tailored behavioral health support and strategies to help patients with diabetes maintain a high quality of life,” Monaghan says.

Patients with diabetes usually are looking for someone who understands the stressors and psychological problems that they face daily, as well as their medical regimen. Patients could have fatigue, lack of interest and irritability. These symptoms could be related to chronic high glucose levels or depression, Monaghan says. Psychologists who see patients with diabetes can provide physicians and other health care providers with “a more informed and nuanced understanding” of their patient’s overall symptoms and experience with diabetes.

W. Douglas Tynan, PhD, ABPP, director of APA’s Office of Integrated Health Care, echoes Monaghan’s comments, saying, “Many symptoms of diabetes overlap with depression. In many cases, we are treating one disease, not two.”

Still, there remains a shortage of mental health professionals trained to understand the complexities of diabetes. To fill the gap, the American Psychological Association and American Diabetes Association are again offering the joint continuing education program, the Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program, at their annual conferences this year.

“One of the main complaints we hear in the community is that there are a lot of misconceptions about diabetes and diabetes management. Not every provider understands the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. There is a huge gap right now, in terms of the need for mental health services and patients’ ability to find a provider with that expertise,"  says Monaghan, who has participated as a presenter during the training’s in-person workshops. "This training will hopefully give mental health providers greater expertise and knowledge about diabetes and mental health, and give them the opportunity to participate in the ADA directory where providers and patients in the diabetes community can really connect.”

The training, which launched last year, consists of:

  • A seven-hour in-person workshop at ADA’s Scientific Sessions or the 2018 APA Annual Convention.
  • A post-workshop exam.
  • A five-hour online CE course.

Psychologists who complete the entire training will receive CE credit, a professional membership to ADA and become eligible for a listing in the ADA Mental Health Provider Referral Directory.

Tamara Oser, MD, a family physician, professor and type 1 diabetes researcher, says a provider directory like the one ADA has established has been very useful. “I think so often that mental health providers are the missing link. We have diabetes educators that we can easily refer patients to, but it is much more challenging to connect patients with mental health providers. When I have patients who also have a mental health provider as part of their healthcare team, we are all able to work together to help the patient achieve improved glycemic and quality of life goals,” Oser says.

Monaghan has received calls from providers and patients who saw her name in the mental health directory. With health care systems moving toward integrated care, Monaghan says, it’s important to have a network where patients can connect with the appropriate providers.

“Psychologists are likely already seeing patients with diabetes, but it may not be the focus of their treatment. We are expecting that mental health providers are coming to this training with very strong skills. At this training, we’re adding on an extra layer of expertise focusing specifically on the medical aspects of diabetes,” Monaghan says.

For more information about the program and to enroll, visit this website for the Mental Health Provider Diabetes Education Program.