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diabetes and mental health

Upcoming Diabetes and Mental Health Conference Defined…


As a trained therapist I would question almost everyone if they told me diabetes has not impacted their emotions and mental state.

Whether or not the Covid pandemic was the trigger for more both patients and professionals to recognize this urgent need, I’m so glad this program is happening, and it’s happening again this May.  Allison Nimlos, one of the event’s founders and an LMFT digs a bit deeper into the what, why and who piece of the conference.  Hope to see you there!

diabetes conference

1. Can you share a bit about “why this conference” in the land of virtual opportunities nowadays? What void is this filling in the diabetes space?

We are the only conference entirely focused on the mental health aspect of living with diabetes! Our event goes in-depth into psychosocial issues in a way that other events only cover briefly with one, maybe two sessions. Diabetes has some kind of psychosocial impact for most people, whether that’s diabetes distress or clinical depression to disordered eating or an eating disorder. For many people, these are conversations that are missing from our typical diabetes education and medical appointments.

We have three keynotes, one panel and 10 breakout sessions, plus what we call “fireside chats” where our attendees will get to have conversations with each other. Almost our entire faculty are mental health providers with diabetes (those who aren’t, they have diabetes, and those who don’t have diabetes are mental health providers specializing in diabetes). It’s a really unique set-up!

2. Would love to know who should attend this conference and why? Can both patients and providers attend?

Patients with any type of diabetes are welcome, because from an emotional and relational perspective, diabetes impacts us all pretty similarly. We have one track that’s more geared toward patients, and one that’s more geared toward providers where they can obtain CEUs if they are in one of the ADCES Joint CE disciplines. But truly, anyone can go to any session.  whether it’s on trauma, ADHD, navigating diabetes in a romantic relationship, or barriers to diabetes and psychiatric medications. Because it’s recorded and available for 30 days, everyone has the opportunity to watch any session, whether live or asynchronously.

3. What are you hoping attendees get out of this? Are there going to be key “take home messages” that will be highlighted this year?

I would say an unofficial theme is stigma and shame, which is the topic of our panel on Friday evening. Dr. Susan Guzman of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute will be joined by Jane K. Dickinson, PhD, RN, CDCES, and a group of patient advocates to talk about the emotional toll these have on us, and how we can work to eliminate stigma and shame in our care and also within our own mindset.

The goal is for the program to be a safe space where people can slow down and really recognize the impact that diabetes has on their mental health. Whether you’re someone living with diabetes or caring for diabetes as a provider or parent, this is an important aspect of life with diabetes. While carb counting skills and optimizing insulin pumps are important, we need to go above and beyond that to capture the entire lived experience with diabetes. That’s what we aim to do.

4. If you could pick one reason why people should consider attending, what would it be?

There’s nothing quite like having your experiences echoed by others. The validation, the camaraderie. There can be a terrible feeling of isolation in managing diabetes, and that can wear you down after a while. One of the reasons we chose to do this virtually was because we learned through the pandemic how virtual events can really help with accessibility.

In addition, the educational value of this conference is really something. To hear about diabetes and mental health from a faculty who is well-versed in both diabetes and mental health is really unique. There is just something really special about knowing that someone doesn’t just have book-knowledge about diabetes, but real life knowledge too, that’s pretty amazing.

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