Envolve Center Healthcare

What’s the Connection? Mental Illness and Diabetes Management in the Medicaid Population

St. Louis, MO (May 4, 2017) – A strong association between mental illness and Type 2 diabetes has already been established in the general population.1 Now, investigators at the Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change™ are hoping to demonstrate a similar connection among Medicaid recipients that could lead to improvements in managing these complex conditions.

“Good mental health is critical to good physical health,” says Dr. Darrell Hudson, associate professor of public health at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Diabetes is a difficult disease to manage, and for people who are not hopeful or energized, it’s hard to get physically active or eat well or adhere to a medication plan.”Dr. Hudson

With a research grant from the Envolve Center, Hudson is examining the mental health needs and health behaviors of Centene health plan members to determine the correlation of those factors with Type 2 diabetes in this vulnerable population. He says he has a “good hunch” of what his findings will reveal: a high level of comorbidity between mental health conditions and Type 2 diabetes.

“Most of what I deal with is bad news,” says Hudson partly in jest, “but I’m excited about being able to document these issues in a large and diverse sample. This research will not just sit up on a shelf,” he continues. “Others will see these findings and pay attention. Then we can think about ways to help people with mental illness better manage their diabetes. We can impact their lives!”

Hudson’s research is both timely and appropriate, according to Dr. Sosunmolu Shoyinka, medical director for Substance Abuse Disorders for Envolve PeopleCare™, a division of Envolve, Inc. There is a high prevalence of behavioral health conditions in a growing Medicaid population.2,3 For this group of people, access to quality treatment, as well as adherence to treatment regimens can be challenging. When further complicated by substance abuse problems, outcomes become significantly worse.

“There is no one-size-fits-all treatment,” says Shoyinka. “We don’t know how to best engage these people or what treatment models work. How do we make sure they even want treatment when their lives are crumbling around them?”

Hudson’s research will provide some insight into the daily struggles and competing demands of Medicaid patients coping with mental health conditions and Type 2 diabetes, and possibly isolate the characteristics of those able to effectively seek out treatment. Armed with that knowledge, Hudson envisions the Envolve Center partnership as a pathway for developing and testing potential solutions for Centene members. Beyond that, he foresees these solutions serving as a model for other health plans and providers, and even influencing healthcare public policy.

As Shoyinka puts it, “We’ll be looking to take what the researchers have found and bring it home to where care is actually provided.”


Discover More

Click to learn more about the Envolve Center and its research studies.


1 Briana Mezuk et al., “Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Over the Lifespan: A Meta-Analysis,” Diabetes Care 31, no. 12 (2008): 2383–2390, doi:10.2337/dc08-0985.
2 MACPAC, Report to Congress on the Medicaid Program and CHIP. Washington D.C.: N.p., 2015.
3 Medicaid and the Uninsured, Kaiser Commission on Key Facts, November 2012.



Ilene Lefland

Ilene Lefland – Senior Wellness Communications Writer, Envolve PeopleCare

Ilene has worked in the health and wellness industry for many years. She focuses on strategic communications planning – looking at the end goal and figuring out how to get there through integrated communications programs and platforms that speak to the target audience.

Envolve PeopleCare’s health and life coaches are experts in helping our members eat a healthy diet, increase their physical activity, manage their health conditions and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Share this Post