Practice Resources

Behavioral Health & Diabetes

Resources and guidance to support the behavioral health of individuals
with diabetes

Mental Health and Diabetes

Diabetes care and education specialists have a complementary role to play in the behavioral health of those with and affected by diabetes. This includes care and education that addresses the impact of emotions on health and well-being outcomes, including activation for diabetes self-management or prevention behaviors.

This area is now recognized as a critical component of any diabetes care plan, because if issues go unrecognized and untreated, care can become undermined and diabetes management impeded. You are perfectly positioned to notice when an individual is experiencing distress and can serve as a connector to mental health professionals. 

Take a look at the resources we've compiled. All of these will help to support your role as a connector and position you to provide holistic care to those you serve. 

Practice Paper

A Practical Approach to Mental Health for the Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

The American Diabetes Association includes mental health in its Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, elevating its importance in overall diabetes care and making it critical that diabetes care and education specialists understand how to address mental health issues within their practice.

This practice paper covers the different psychosocial concerns and potential pharmacologic options for people with diabetes. It also provides guidance on the screening and referral process.

Key Points:

  • Depression and other mental health related conditions are more commonly found in people with diabetes. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there’s help! Diabetes care and education specialists need to help their clients overcome any stigma associated with mental illness and encourage them to seek treatment by a mental health professional, if needed.
  • If a person with diabetes realizes that they are eating even when they are not hungry, this is a cue to the diabetes care and education specialists to explore the reasons or potential emotional triggers. 
  • If a person with diabetes has tried making behavioral changes and is struggling, be open to discussing a referral to a mental health specialist. 
  • Promote the role of caregivers who can serve as needed champions, helping the person with diabetes remember to do such things as take their medication as prescribed and manage stress.

Diabetes and Mental Health Infographic
Download and print this infographic 


​1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51). Available at: Accessed 29 May 2018.
2. Anderson, R. J., Freedland, K. E., Clouse, R. E., & Lustman, P. J. (2001). The prevalence of comorbid depression in adults with diabetes: A meta-analysis. Diabetes Care, 24, 1069 –1078.
3. Young-Hyman D, de Groot M, Hill-Briggs F, et al. Psychosocial Care for People with Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care 2016; 39: 2126–2140.
4. Grigsby AB, Anderson RJ, Freedland KE, et al. Prevalence of anxiety in adults with diabetes: A systematic review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 2002;53: 1053–1060
5. Matlock, Jones, Corathers, et al. Clinical and psychosocial factors associated with suicidal ideation in adolescents with type 1 diabetes. J Adolesc Health 2017;61(4):471-477.
6. Van Buren DJ, Wilfley DE, et al. Depressive symptoms and glycemic control in youth with type 2 diabetes participating in the TODAY clinical trial. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2018;135:85-87.
7. Young V, Eiser C, Johnson B, et al. Eating problems in adolescents with T1D: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Diabetic Medicine 2013;30:189–198.
8. Young-Hyman, D. (2012). Eating disorders and disordered eating behavior. In D. Young-Hyman & M. Peyrot (Eds.), Psychosocial care. Washington,DC: American Diabetes Association.

Handouts for People with Diabetes

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