3 minute read
Uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 can increase feelings of fear and worry among veterans with diabetes. As a behavioral health consultant, I saw an increase of referrals to primary care mental health. Suddenly, I had to develop innovative ways to address the emotional needs of veterans without the traditional in-person face to face appointment. When people are under mental and/or physical stress, they generally experience an increase in blood glucose levels. Depression occurrence is two times higher in people with diabetes mellitus. As a result, some veterans fail to check blood glucose levels daily, decrease physical activity, reduce water intake, and eat comfort foods (i.e. ice cream, cakes, pies).
Patient engagement and decreasing barriers to access treatment are vital to provide diabetes self-management support in a variety of modalities:
The COVID-19 Diabetes Support Group is an opportunity for veterans to share experiences regarding managing emotions related to COVID-19 and maintaining positive diabetes self-management.
VA VIDEO CONNECT
The behavioral health consultant can provide face to face services for veterans, who have an internet connection on any device.
Veterans can download an automated text messaging app called “Annie”, which provides reminders and health related information.
Veterans can utilize MY HealtheVet, the VA’s online personal health record which provides resources, healthcare related information, and veterans can refill diabetic medications. Also, veterans can send secure messages to their Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT).
As the Behavioral Health Consultant, I have collaborated with a diabetes psychology technician, who provides care management services. The technician administers health-related outcome measures to assess symptoms and diabetes-related distress. Also, the technician will contact the veteran to assist with establishing SMART goals, discuss barriers to reach goals, and provide support. The diabetes team, which consists of a registered nurse, who is also the diabetes coordinator, clinical pharmacist and the behavioral health consultant is vital to facilitate referrals to address immediate needs. I also created COVID-19 Diabetes & Behavioral Health Support packets, which consists of information related to Diabetes & Stress, Diabetes and Emotional Well-Being, Mobile & Web Resources, Eating Healthy with Diabetes, and Diabetes & Depression.
In Conclusion, utilizing a variety of modalities to include, telephonic groups, VA Video Connect, secure messaging, and text messaging, are ways to keep the veteran engage in treatment. These variety of approaches can assist the veteran to stick to their Diabetes Self-Management Support plan.