Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists


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

In 2017, the American Diabetes Association added mental health to its Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, elevating its importance in overall diabetes care and making it critical that diabetes educators 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 help them make adjustments in their routine.
  • If a person with diabetes has tried making behavioral changes and is struggling, be open to discussing current effective treatment through pharmacotherapy.
  • 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

Type 1 Diabetes Resources For Your Practice

Diabetes Distress



Diabetes Resilience

Resiliencein Diabetes_Page_1


Family Conflict 

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Education to Enhance Your Practice

Recorded Webinar

Roles of the Diabetes Care and Education Specialist in Identification and Treatment of Depression and Mental Illness
The incidence of depression and other mental illnesses is higher in people with diabetes and may adversely affect their ability to manage their diabetes. Understanding the additional burden these illnesses place on the person with diabetes, caregiver and treatment team is paramount. The diabetes care and education specialist must be able to recognize these illnesses and assure adequate treatment as an important responsibility of our evolving role. 30 minutes. 0.5 CE

Empowering African Americans With Diabetes Through Positive Thinking
African Americans face many challenges associated with diabetes self-management and it is common for them to fall into negative thinking patterns. Researchers suggest that positive thinking can lead to improved diabetes management and empowerment to foster independence, self-management and the ability to question and make informed choices. This presentation offers 6 positive thinking strategies that can be utilized to assist in empowering the African American participant. 30 minutes. 0.5 CE

Three-Minute Psychosocial Interventions
People living with chronic conditions are challenged by the influences of environmental, behavioral, social and emotional factors when integrating self-care into their daily routine. Diabetes care and education specialists are charged with identifying these psychosocial influences and addressing the barriers that impact identified successes. This session will explore simple and effective psychosocial assessment tools that the DCES can fit into their current workflow in 3 minutes or less, providing insights to help better tailor and individualize conversations and interventions to meet the needs of their population. 30 minutes, 0.5 CE

Understanding the Intersection of Diabetes and Addiction
Most diabetes care and education specialists receive little professional training in addiction, yet addiction may be an underlying reason for difficulties with diabetes self-management. As population health initiatives require greater accountability for providers who manage diabetes, understanding how diabetes and addiction impact each other, how to assess for addiction and how to refer patients for help to improve health outcomes. 90 minutes, 1.5 CE


Diabulimia What It Is and How To Treat It

Diabulimia—Diabetes & Eating Disorders: What It Is and How to Treat It

Learn how to identify individuals at high-risk for diabulimia. Recognize and circumvent the strategies individuals with diabetes use to avoid weight gain.

Please note: Book is on backorder. Please check back again soon. 

Psychosocial Care for People with Diabetes

Psychosocial Care for People with Diabetes 

This book covers all the issues that care providers should consider when a person with diabetes takes on the challenges of diabetes self-management and manages living with a chronic disease. Sections cover behavior health, self-management, implementation of treatment technology and life course issues.

This landmark text covers all of the issues that care providers should consider when a patient takes on the burdens of diabetes self-management and deals with living with a chronic disease. Sections cover behavioral health, self-management, implementation of treatment technology, and life course issues.

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