Mental Health Approaches to Improve Diabetes Outcomes

The Problem

Having Diabetes Mellitus (DM) doubles the odds that a patient will develop depression in their lifetime. It's a cruel cycle: depression makes diabetes difficult to manage and uncontrolled diabetes leads to deeper depression. This situation is difficult for anyone: now imagine the struggles faced by those below the poverty threshold. It's a problem that needs to be addressed and that's exactly what I want to do. Walker’s Point Community Clinic (WPCC) is a point of entry clinic providing primary and urgent care on the South Side of Milwaukee, WI. It serves families and other individuals who face barriers to health care and consequently cannot be seen in other places. These barriers include such things as poverty, homelessness, language, and immigration status. However, in recent years, the clinic has been serving as a medical home for nearly 500 DM patients every year. These patients need far more medical care than insulin and glucometers can bring. Their depression symptoms need to be treated as well. Consequently, I'm working (under the supervision of Jake Bidwell, M.D. and Steve Ohly, R.N., with the help of Ruth Perez) to put a program in place that will serve two purpose: (1) To give DM patients access to programs (such as counseling and exercise programs) that may help treat both their depression and diabetes;(2) To collect data from this program and analyze it to see if significant clinical progress is made. If so, this project will have far-reaching clinical applications in the treatment of DM.

Plan of Action

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