DBSA e-Update April 2012

Quick Links to Articles Below

DBSA +6 Campaign Kickoff Peer Specialist Training
Ask the Doctor Q & A Making Peace with the Past
Note from Allen Wellness Tips from Peers
Advancing Culturally Appropriate Practices Save the Date

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA Positive Six Campaign Kicks Off May 1st

The DBSA “Positive Six Campaign” (DBSA +6) challenges you to focus for six months on making small, positive changes in your life. A strong support network, good physical health, and giving to others are all contributors towards good mental health for anyone, but especially for the over 21 million people who live with mood disorders.

Whether it's incorporating a new habit, reconnecting with old friends, sharing kindness, or simply making someone smile, little things can make a big difference—in your life and in the lives of others.

Here’s How You Can Be Part of +6:

  • The full +6 website is now live at www.positive6.org! Visit the May Feeding Kindness Challenge page to find inspiration in May’s challenge thought starters, read educational articles, chuckle at the challenge cartoon, discover healthy recipes, and much more!
  • Visit www.positive6.org on May 1st for a chance to win +6 merchandise at the top of every hour (9am-5pm Central). Then visit on the first of every month of the campaign to learn more about that month’s challenge and for more opportunities to win +6 prizes.
  • For additional updates each month, “join” our +6 event page on Facebook and visit the page often. We will be making frequent announcements and would love to hear about your successes each month !
  • Send us your photo with your +6 challenge goal for May's Feeding Kindness challenge. See how DBSA headquarters staff is Feeding Kindness this May. 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 us your challenge photos! Send your photo to *events@dbsalliance.org. Note that images should be in JPG format and less than 5mb each.

    *DBSA +6 Photo Submission Disclaimer:
    By sending us your +6 photo, you are granting DBSA the right to post it on DBSA websites and social media pages (including, but not limited to, www.DBSAlliance.org, www.Positive6.org and www.facebook.com/DBSAlliance). Please use only your first name in the photo. DBSA will not publish the full names of individuals that submit photos. DBSA will not be "tagging" individuals in photos posted to our Facebook page. NOTE: DBSA is not responsible if you or anyone else tags you an an photos posted on DBSA's Facebook page.

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

Thank you to Dr. William Gilmer, DBSA Board and Scientific Advisory Board member, for contributing his expertise to this month’s Q & A.

Ask the Doctor Q & A

I am exercising and eating well and still can't seem to shed the pounds. I am on antidepressants. What can I do?
- Terresa

Losing weight is often a struggle, especially when a person is also living with a mood disorder. The causes are multiple. Increased appetite and carbohydrate craving, along with reduced activity level, are common symptoms of depression. And yes, certain antidepressants and other medications may increase appetite. However, most medications do not alter metabolism, per se. Thus, weight loss can still occur when attention is given to other factors, including the composition and timing of dietary intake.

Eating more frequently and smaller amounts, increasing the relative amount of protein eaten (people generally feel more “full” when eating high protein content foods), reducing breads and starches, eating a healthful breakfast, and avoiding large meals or snacks late in the evening can provide a more balanced diet throughout the entire day.

If one believes their current efforts to lose weight should be more productive, a consultation with a nutritionist may be helpful. If that isn’t possible, keeping a written log of one’s consumption may provide clues to problem areas and reinforce better dietary habits. In particular, check out the nutritional content of commonly eaten foods and foods believed to be “healthy".

Several readily available websites and phone apps list nutritional information for prepared and restaurant food items, and provide logs for recording consumption. We are often unaware of the hidden calories in many foods we eat. Even so-called “low fat” or “no fat” foods may be loaded with empty carbohydrates. Soft drinks, sport drinks, energy bars, restaurant salads and salad dressings may contain excessive amounts of sugar. Alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer are also loaded with carbohydrates and are a source of excessive calorie intake for some individuals.

Another critical ingredient for weight loss is exercise. Increasing both aerobic exercise and strength training, ideally four times a week for a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes, can increase muscle tone and metabolism and reduce fat stores. Regular exercise has also been shown to reduce risk for depression relapse when combined with a stable medication regimen. If one is already exercising regularly, changing up your routine and challenging your body in novel ways with repeated bursts of exertion can make your work-outs more efficient.

Chronic, low-grade sleep deprivation is another contributor to obesity. Skipping sleep leads to persistently elevated levels of the body’s stress hormone, which can cause elevated blood sugar levels and increased fat stores. Staying up late may also make one more prone to late night snacking.

Lastly, a person carefully tending to all the above yet still gaining weight should consult their physician. Certain medical conditions such as thyroid abnormalities can cause weight gain as well as complicate depression.

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 May 1st to be considered for the May eUpdate.

William Gilmer, M.D., is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.    In addition to his teaching and research activities, Dr. Gilmer maintains a private clinical practice and TMS service in Chicago.   Specializing in the evaluation and treatment of mood disorders for over 20 years, Dr. Gilmer currently serves on the DBSA Board of Directors and its Scientific Advisory Board.  


Note from Allen

It’s a sunny spring day, and I am certainly feeling a shift in the air…and in my spirits. Even though I’ve been fortunate to find the right strengths and goals to focus on, a treatment plan that works, and balance and supports in my life such that I consider myself quite well the majority of the time, I do experience some more issues with depression during the dark cold months that Chicago typically sees January-March (and sometimes as late as May as any Chicagoan will tell you)! Anyway, with a sunny April upon us—and as I experience the feelings of hope that a sunnier, busier time tends to instill in me—I want to share some of what’s been on my mind and, maybe, inspire some hope in those reading this note, too.

A group of peers and friends, Board, and staff of DBSA were fortunate to join our colleagues from the National Council on Community Behavioral Healthcare for their excellent annual conference, which took place in Chicago. We were honored to be recognized by this esteemed colleague organization during their Saturday, April 14, 2012 reception. Such recognition is a testimony to DBSA’s 27 years of service and our place within the landscape of mental health service organizations across the country. We also note, and applaud, the consistent and considerable place that peers have within the mission and programming of National Council. Our thanks to National Council’s Board, staff, and member organizations.

Also energizing have been some excellent new resources that two government organizations have launched recently. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched some new online shared-decision making tools that enhance the therapeutic alliance. Take a look at what shared-decision making is and consider whether this new tool is right for you. And the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ) has released excellent peer materials on nonpharmacologic interventions for treatment-resistant depression.

Here in the DBSA national offices, it’s so exciting to see all of my colleagues’ positive-action commitments for the May launch of the DBSA Positive Six Campaign. Not only am I proud to see a vibrant and wellness-focused program that begins during National Mental Health Month, but I’m also excited that the DBSA staff, as a team, are in on +6 together. Because it’s so much easier to take that first step towards a positive change when someone else is doing it with you. And the Positive Six Campaign is also a framework for dialogue, both among our peers, and with the community at large. You don’t have to live with a diagnosis to participate in +6, but if you do live with depression or bipolar disorder, these small, manageable changes all relate to an area of behavioral health. And each step we make towards the life we want to lead is an empowering choice that demonstrates to our families, friends, and co-workers—and, most importantly, ourselves—that we can make positive changes that can eventually add up to big progress towards recovery.

I’d like to close with my respect, admiration, and celebration for the extraordinary life of the late Mike Wallace, who was an important mental-health advocate and DBSA friend and collaborator. Mr. Wallace personifies a “life unlimited” by a diagnosis of a mood disorder. Mr. Wallace was a compelling and memorable television figure, a tireless and talented journalist, and a peer. Thank you to Mr. Wallace for his advocacy, his contributions, and his inspiration.

May we all seek, expect, and achieve a rewarding, positive path for ourselves.


DBSA Supports SAMHSA in Advancing Culturally Appropriate Practices

In March, SAMHSA’s National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health (NNED) hosted NNEDLearn 2012, a 3-day training opportunity aimed at building skills in evidence-supported and culturally appropriate clinical, consumer, and organizational practices. The event brought together 150 individuals from across the country at New Mexico’s Santa Ana Pueblo near Albuquerque following a highly competitive application process.

Recognizing DBSA’s long-standing expertise in the field of peer support, Vice President Lisa Goodale and Texas Veteran peer specialist Olga Wuerz facilitated the training track on Committing to Authentic Peer Support Services in Your Organization with diverse groups of organizational representatives. Said Goodale, “The participants in our track came from a wide range of service delivery settings, serving homeless individuals, people living with HIV/AIDS, people in rural areas, and many others. What they had in common was a strong dedication to the value of peer support as a key way to connect with individuals facing challenges, engender hope, and strengthen their commitment to recovery.”

The group is continuing its work through an online learning community and group webinars that address identified topics in greater depth.

The National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health offers a wealth of practical resources on inclusion of all in recovery; for more information, visit www.nned.net. If you’d like to bring DBSA peer support implementation training to your local area, contact Lisa Goodale: Training@DBSAlliance.org or (800) 826-3632, x 155.

NNEDLearn 2012
NNEDLearn 2012 Trainers
NNEDLearn 2012
NNEDLearn 2012 Participants

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA Peer Specialist Training Comes to St. Louis This July

“Staff may be experts in treating mental illness. You are an expert in living with a mental illness.” (from the DBSA Peer Specialist training manual)

Take a moment to reflect on the knowledge you’ve developed through your experiences in recovery. You are truly an expert in finding healthy ways to make it through difficult times, and DBSA applauds you for your achievements. Throughout the U.S., mental health service delivery systems are recognizing the value of this lived experience as they include growing numbers of peer specialists as members of their teams. Have you considered stepping forward into this role?

If so, consider applying for DBSA Peer Specialist training, where you’ll learn how people like you can use their recovery experiences to create partnerships with their peers and help them move forward in their lives. Our next course takes place July 23-27, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. Facilitated by nationally-recognized trainers, this comprehensive course delivers a foundation in recovery principles, intervention techniques, and ethical practice. Training takes place Monday-Friday, followed by online testing in your home community.

DBSA actively seeks a diverse group of applicants for this unique training experience.
Click here to download a copy of the course application, or visit www.DBSAlliance.org/Training. ALL APPLICATIONS MUST BE RECEIVED BY DBSA NO LATER THAN June 19, 2012.

Note: Each individual state or service delivery system sets its own peer specialist training and certification standards. Please check local requirements with your state certification body, office of consumer affairs, or service delivery system before making the decision to participate in the DBSA training course. DBSA can provide information on training curriculum content on request.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

June DBSA Mental Health First Aid Training Course in Urbana, Illinois

The next DBSA Mental Health First Aid course is scheduled for June 6-7, 2012 in Urbana, Illinois at the University of Illinois School of Social Work. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a practical 12-hour training course designed to give members of the public key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Research evidence demonstrates that participating in the course builds mental health literacy — helping the public identify, understand and respond appropriately to signs of mental illness. Like CPR training helps a non-medical professional assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps an individual who doesn’t have clinical training assist someone who’s experiencing a mental health crisis.

Course participants learn the risk factors and warning signs of specific conditions such as anxiety, depression, psychosis and addiction; engage in experiential activities that build understanding of the impact of illness; and practice a 5-part intervention strategy. The course also helps individuals learn about evidence-based treatment and support - ultimately building participants' mental health literacy.

Registration fee is $75 for DBSA Chapter members, and $95 for members of the general public. The deadline to register is May 22nd.

Register here. For more information on the course, or to talk with us about bringing Mental Health First Aid training to your area, contact Lisa Goodale at DBSA: Training@DBSAlliance.org or (800) 826-3632, x 155.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Making Peace with the Past

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 Robin L. Flanigan, is from the spring issue of bp magazine.

Kathy Leichter’s mother, Nina, used to dress up a mannequin in their Manhattan apartment as Bob Dylan. She would move a bust of Marie Antoinette that she’d found in someone’s garbage from the living room to the bathroom, or vice versa, depending on her mood. She was a prolific poet, and she loved rock and roll.

“She was unconventional and interesting and funny, and I liked that about her,” says Leichter, who was 7 years old when her mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1974. “But I didn’t feel completely safe. It didn’t seem like she had things under control, and I often felt like I had to be in charge…”

Read the full article

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!

Prove Other People Wrong
People think I will not change and that really hurts. As long as you have one or two big supporters on your side and you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.

Download and listen to rain sounds if you are having a hard time falling asleep. I found one that is 8 hours, the sound of rain on a tent, some distant rolling thunder. It helps to calm me as I am falling asleep.

It is pointless to compare yourself to others, as no one person will ever truly be the same in any way. Your goals are yours alone, not based on what someone else does or can do. Don’t let others make you jealous or feel inadequate, work the way you work best.

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

May 1, 2012 October 31, 2012
DBSA +6 Campaign

June 6-7, 2012
DBSA Mental Health First Aid Course
Urbana, Illinois

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

Sept. 5-8, 2012
NAPS conference in Philadelphia, PA

October 10, 2012
DBSA Chapter Leadership Forum
Portland, OR

October 12-14, 2012
Alternatives 2012
Portland, OR

June 14, 2013
DBSA Chapter Leadership Forum
Miami, FL

June 15, 2013 - June 17, 2013
DBSA 2103 National Conference
Miami, FL