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First national conference on mental health issues of diabetes

October 1, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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On October 7 and 8, a group of scientists, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and experts from major diabetes centers across the country will be meeting at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia to present the latest findings on Type 1 diabetes as it affects mental health. The primary goal of this groundbreaking conference, sponsored by Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS), in conjunction with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), is to share research and design a new paradigm for the diagnosis and treatment of depression, eating disorders, anxiety, suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction that may accompany a life with Type 1 diabetes.

Lee Ducat, founder of JDRF and the National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI), said, "Diabetes is epidemic in the US and throughout the world.  We propose with the Mental Health Issues of Diabetes Conference (MHID), a nationwide effort to survey the field of mental health issues and diabetes clinical care. Ultimately we want to create new standardized modules of treatment across the passages of life."

Current research indicates that eating disorders, substance abuse, depression and suicide may be more prevalent in people with Type 1 diabetes. UHS's Behavioral Health Division though its network of 195 facilities in 37 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands serves a high number of diabetics with complex mental health issues that are related to the disease. 

Alan B. Miller, Chairman of the Board and CEO of UHS, headquartered in King of Prussia, Pa., said, "Through landmark legislation like the Affordable Care Act and the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, we will continue to see a movement towards integrating mental health as a vital component to overall physical health. Healthcare providers will increasingly be required to address the patient's complex needs by treating both body and mind."

The conference will include professionals from major diabetes centers such as Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, Mass.; Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, University of Colorado; Kovler Diabetes Center, University of Chicago; and the Rodebaugh Diabetes Center, University of Pennsylvania. Organizers goal is to develop a new model for screening, diagnosing and treating the mental health challenges for those who suffer from diabetes. The aim for this conference is also to create comprehensive treatments for Type 1 diabetes which is based on medical and physical aspects as well as the mental health issues.

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