DBSA e-Update June 2012

Quick Links to Articles Below

Be a DBSA Ambassador! Ask the Doctor
Chapter Service Award Winners Navigating Change
Making Positive Changes This June National Association of Peer Specialists Conference
NEW SURVEY: Research Permissions & Privacy Wellness Tips from Peers
A Note from Allen: Ambassadors for Wellness Save the Date

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Be a DBSA Ambassador!

We are excited to announce the launch of the DBSA Ambassador Program. Now each of us can play a role in helping DBSA reach more people than ever!

DBSA is fortunate to have so many generous benefactors. Without them we could not fulfill our mission of improving—and saving—the lives of people living with mood disorders.

However, for all that we have accomplished, and continue to accomplish each day, there is always so much more that could be done. And that means finding more people to support our work. Who better to spread awareness and the DBSA message than our peers and allies?

That is why we have developed the DBSA Ambassador Program, so that each of us has the tools to reach out and “spread the word” about DBSA. All you have to do is share your passion for DBSA. It’s that simple. It’s that important.

Please, help us bring others into the DBSA Community. Help us to achieve our goal of bringing hope and support to EVERYONE who needs it.

See a sample page or for more information please visit our DBSA Ambassador home page or contact SBirkhauser@DBSAlliance.org.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Congratulations to Our 2011 DBSA Chapter Service Award Winners!

Each year, DBSA has the distinct pleasure to recognize a few of our chapters for their amazing contributions to the mental health community! The chapter service awards focus on advocacy, community outreach, education and support. Every day DBSA chapters and their support groups provide understanding and empowerment to people in their communities. DBSA is so proud to be your partner in mission! The 2011 Chapter Service Awardees are:

Large Chapter: DBSA Northridge (CA)  
DBSA Northridge has a lot to be proud of! The chapter has achieved a high level of recognition in their community and is frequently sought out for advice from companies in the Los Angeles area. The group’s stigma reduction efforts include an appearance on the Dr. Drew show. They also have a robust speaker series, a large pool of facilitators, and many volunteer opportunities for members.

Small Chapter: DBSA GLBT Chicago (IL)
DBSA GLBT Chicago is a small chapter but their huge efforts deserve much recognition. Their publicity campaign included a mailer to professionals for referrals and a regularly-updated website and news page. They listen to the needs of members with anonymous surveys and also have a stocked lending library. Members support each other outside of support groups with regular lunches and social events.

Rookie Chapter: DBSA ChicagoLoop (IL) 
DBSA Chicago Loop has become well established since their foundation in July 2011, with attendance growing over 300% in just four months. Members spread the word with chapter business cards and all are encouraged and empowered to take an active role in the chapter’s success. Attendees have a lending library, book club, and movie club. They are laying the groundwork for future development and we can’t wait to hear about their future successes.

State Organization: DBSA Colorado 
DBSA Colorado’s efforts in 2011 were outstanding and diverse. The group is active in advocacy and community outreach and presented on peer-run services at a SAMHSA leadership summit. They also provide a unique program to help consumers obtain employment, as well as regularly offer Pathways to Recovery classes. To serve Colorado chapters, DBSA Colorado provides facilitator training and assistance with re-affiliation, as well as efforts to start new support groups in their state.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Making Positive Changes This June

As part of the DBSA Positive 6 (+6) Campaign we are challenging you to participate in the June “Positive Change” Challenge by incorporating 2 positive habits into your routine this month. Drink more water, be diligent about getting 8 hours of sleep, eliminate negative self-talk, etc. Small steps can lead to big changes in how you feel both physically and emotionally!

Visit the June “Positive Change” Challenge page on Positive6.org to find inspiration in June’s challenge thought starters, read educational articles, listen to a podcast, chuckle at the challenge cartoon, download a star chart to track your successes, and much more!

Here are some other ways you can be a part of +6:

  • Join the challenge and help spread the word by registering to attend our Positive 6 event on Facebook! 
  • Send us your June successes! Once you have completed your Positive Change Challenge goal(s), please email us at events@DBSAlliance.org to share with us what you have done!
  • Visit our +6 goodies page to download free tools and to purchase +6 merchandise!
  • Check out the DBSA staff’s June challenges or share yours! Your photo will be featured in a photo album on www.positive6.org as well as the DBSA Facebook page. Download the +6 Challenge Sign from positive6.org and send your challenge photos to events@DBSAlliance.org. Note that images should be in jpg format and less than 1mb each.

And don’t forget to join us July 1st for the kick off of the July “Give It a Try” Challenge. We will be giving away +6 merchandise at the top of every hour (9am-5pm Central) on our Facebook page.

Join us now through October! Have fun and do something good for yourself and your and community!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

NEW SURVEY: Research Permissions & Privacy

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) envisions wellness for people living with depression and bipolar disorder. As such, we support research to improve care for people who live with mood disorders and we encourage individuals to participate in that research.

But we also understand that mental health information is sensitive. And one of our core principles is respect for your autonomy, including your right to decide about use of your health information.

The purpose of this survey is to understand what you think about using health information in research. The questions describe different types of research and ask what you think about how researchers should use information and when they need to ask individual permission.

This survey consists of 23 multiple choice questions that address privacy related to research in the following four areas.

  • Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder in Children
  • Suicidal Thoughts or Behavior in Young People
  • Follow-up Treatment for Depression and Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression in Pregnancy

Thank you for taking this 5-minute survey.


A Note from Allen: Ambassadors for Wellness

The DBSA Positive Six Campaign is well underway, and I'm definitely noticing the big results of just a few small steps. Meditating daily and exercising three times a week seem to have made falling asleep—and waking up—much easier! And I think my colleagues would agree I’ve been much calmer while reviewing Excel spreadsheets since I’ve made a point of meditating before I do so. Others’ positive steps have rubbed off on me, too; I’ve joined a friend in taking the stairs more, and it’s not quite as hard as it was on June 1! Share what you’re doing this month!

I hope you’ll also take a moment to become a DBSA Ambassador. Indeed, you are likely already an ambassador who represents stigma reduction, knowledgeable consumers, and the possibility of wellness for peers. We hope you’ll now also become an ambassador for generating support of DBSA’s work and enabling us to achieve even more as we inform, empower, support, and inspire.

Thank you for being DBSA ambassadors for wellness,


Thank you to Dr. Greg Simon, DBSA Scientific Advisory Board Chair, for contributing his expertise to this month’s Q & A.

Ask the Doctor

Sometimes I get angry and mean and completely lose control. I am alienating my kids, and I fear they will never want to visit me when they leave to go out on their own. What can I do to control my outbursts?

Anyone can have problems with anger or irritability, but those problems are more common for people who live with depression or bipolar disorder. Irritability or anger outbursts are common symptoms of mania, and some people have problems with irritability when they are more depressed. Do your problems with anger tend to go along with other symptoms of mania (like feeling speeded up or racy, not needing to sleep) or symptoms of depression (like low mood, negative thinking, or losing interest in things)?

If you are taking medication for depression or bipolar disorder, be sure to tell your doctor about problems with anger or losing control and about how those problems relate to other mood symptoms. If anger problems seem to be symptoms of depression or mania, then your doctor may recommend some adjustment in medication.

Whether or not anger problems are related to depression or mania, there are specific steps you can take to better manage irritability or control anger outbursts. These include:

  • Learning to recognize the external situations (people, places, events) that tend to make you more irritable or angry.
  • Planning ahead for managing those high-risk situations by either avoiding them or preparing for them.
  • Learning to recognize the internal warning signs (thoughts, emotions, physical feelings) that indicate you are more irritable or angry.
  • Identifying specific things you can do when you notice those internal warning signs. Those might include things you can say to yourself, physical relaxation (like deep breathing), or actions you can take to interrupt the anger (like going outside and walking).

If you are seeing a counselor or therapist, you should talk with them about difficulties with irritability or anger outbursts. Your therapist can work with you to find the skills or strategies that help you the most.

Finally, alcohol and some drugs (especially stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine) can increase the chances that anger will get out of control. If you use alcohol or street drugs and you are having problems with anger outbursts, then you will probably want to look at how alcohol or drugs are affecting you.

Do you have a question for a mental health care provider? We will be accepting questions for our clinical panel and will publish a select question and answer in each of the DBSA monthly eUpdates. Submit your question here by July 1st to be considered for the July eUpdate.

Dr. Greg Simon, MD, MPH, is a psychiatrist and researcher at Group Health Cooperative at the Center for Health Studies in Seattle. His research focuses on improving the quality and availability of mental health services for people living with mood disorders, and he has a specific interest in activating consumers to expect and demand more effective mental health care.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Navigating Change

DBSA is pleased to partner with bp Magazine/esperanza to bring you empowering and informative articles featured in the quarterly bp and esperanza magazines. The below article, by Jodi Helmer, is from the spring issue of esperanza magazine.

When Glenn S. answered a knock at his door on Christmas Eve 2008, he received news that changed his life: His son, Staff Sergeant Christopher S., had been killed while on patrol in Iraq.

“Chris and I were so close. He was more than a son, he was a friend,” recalls Glenn, 50, who recently founded Pathway to Joy Ministries. “I remember thinking, ‘I’m a lead pastor and a counselor, I should have answers, but I have no idea what to do.’”

Read the full article.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Early Bird Registration Now Open for National Association of Peer Specialists Conference

Plan now to attend Recovery Revolution - Part II, the Sixth Annual National Association of Peer Specialists (NAPS) Conference, in historic Philadelphia, September 6-8, 2012. Philadelphia was the site of the second annual NAPS conference. Peer Specialists will return this year to improve their peer support skills, hear inspiring speakers, and network with their peers from around the country. Don’t miss this opportunity!

"Early bird" registration fee is $225 per person through August 1. For more information or to register, click here.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

In the Facing Us Clubhouse, consumers who have found small ways to make a big difference in their recovery can share wellness tips like those listed here. Visit the Clubhouse to be inspired by your peers…and to pass on some of your own inspiration.

To access the Wellness Tracker visit the Facing Us Clubhouse. Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and free!

The quickest way out of a depressed mood is to think of someone else in need. Volunteering helps me forget my feelings and to think of others.

Positive thoughts create positive environments. Thinking positively creates a positive atmosphere so that love can surround you and make you feel safe.

You can only succeed when you try. Have courage in the face of challenges and believe miracles are still possible.

A Note about FacingUs.org
When you visit the Facing Us Clubhouse, you'll notice that several "rooms," including the room that houses wellness tips, require you to log in or create an account. Why is this necessary? Because in these sections, you are creating personal journals, books or a plan that is uniquely yours. So, we need a way to pull your unique information—like pulling your file out of a filing cabinet.

Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and FREE! We only need two things to create an account just for you—your e-mail and a password. Please be assured that we will not distribute or sell your information to anyone outside of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. The media room and creativity center on the site does not require registration. The only reason we require registration for other parts of the site is so that you can create your own personal wellness tools.

Save the Date

Now - October 31, 2012
DBSA +6 Campaign

July 1-31, 2012
+6 Give it a Try Challenge

July 23-27, 2012
DBSA Peer Specialist Training
St. Louis Empowerment Center, St. Louis, MO

August 17-18, 2012
Mental Health First Aid Course
Springfield, Ill

Sept. 6-8, 2012
NAPS conference in Philadelphia, PA

September 1-30, 2012
National Recovery Month
United States

October 10, 2012
DBSA Chapter Leadership Forum
Portland, OR