I hear this and see it on social media all too often…
“The biggest problem with mental health is the mental health provider.” Now typically this is in reference to chronic illness, but I’ve heard it generally too.
Now. Granted. Yes. That can be a PART of the problem, but just a part. All of healthcare needs work- let’s be real. And when it comes to mental health “problems” in terms of accessing care- there are a lot of other players and components with that (if we’re going to point fingers… I’d point it at insurance- TBH. The biggest problem I had in terms of mental healthcare- was me being ready for it and affordability/insurance coverage).
Then I hear the message that you have to see someone with a chronic illness/T1D background. That it’s the only way to go. That we need more of those providers (it’d be nice to have more!).
I have NEVER actually seen a diabetes or chronic illness specific mental health provider- they are limited and very far and few between- especially in the small town south. (even if the reasons I was going were related to T1D). (I have had not great experiences with mental health providers- of course- but that is healthcare in general).
I have however seen mental health providers that have been awesome in terms of diabetes! Sure they aren’t an “expert”- but the really amazing ones did their own research and brought the few questions they had left- which all related to how diabetes and mental health interact – for me at another appointment. I’ve also had a provider who knew about T1D and not because she specialized. I do not stick with providers that want me to educate them though- that takes too many sessions and so much time- but there are so many providers that are willing to learn. I know that often people with a chronic illness seek mental health providers because of said chronic illness- but remember there is more to our lives than that- am I really supposed to go without? or be on the hunt forever to find a provider that specific?
A recent discussion reminded me all of this- it all depends on your needs too. Different mental health providers serve different needs- which also includes finding the right person and style for what you need.
and no- I don’t consider it settling. I am still very passionate that you need a good relationship with your healthcare provider– but that doesn’t mean it has to be someone with T1D/chronic illness focus.
- They’ve had experience professionally or personally with chronic illness.
- They’re willing to learn more about your chronic illness.
- This provider seems like a good fit for what you need.
We also need to remember- that T1D has come a long way. That mental health has come a long way. But they both have a ways to go- we cannot snap our fingers and expect it all to be perfect- it will take time.
I hear the blame game with mental health so often. Providers blaming providers too. (I would like to point out that it is important for my healthcare providers to also understand my mental health- ahem ahem- endo who told me to “get over” my OCD.)
I’ve pursued mental health providers for various reasons (and a few times “forced” as a child but not including those because they weren’t the best experiences) over the years. and yeah- sometimes diabetes has been bought up- but usually in how whatever is going on presents itself in my life- which can sometimes relate to diabetes.
(not my photo- but oh wait- I kind of do talk about it all the time!)
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