DBSA e-Update January 2014

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Welcome to 2014: The Year of Thriving

DBSA welcomes 2014 with a year-long campaign, 2014: The Year of Thriving. Of course we all want to thrive, but for us at DBSA, this idea goes far beyond just being a nice sentiment or catchy campaign theme. DBSA is changing the discussion around mental health—because we believe it is crucial to shift the focus from surviving mental health symptoms to building truly thriving lives.

So in 2014, we're asking our peers, families, clinicians, researchers, politicians, and the public to expect more. We as a community need to promote and seek full wellness—because better is not well.

The cost of settling for reduced symptoms is simply too great. It is, in fact, a matter of life and death—for when residual symptoms exist, we who have mood disorders are

  • at significantly greater risk of relapse
  • more likely to have life-threatening co-occurring conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes—which is a huge factor in why individuals with mental health conditions die, on average, 25 years younger than those without mental health conditions
  • at a higher risk to die by suicide

DBSA’s 2014: The Year of Thriving is a year-long focus on programming that challenges each of us to raise our personal wellness expectations from just better to truly well; to demand a new focus on treatment options and methodologies that have zero residual symptoms as the goal; and to take action, in our own lives and in service of others, to help make this goal a reality. Watch DBSA President, Allen Doederlein, share a few program highlights from DBSA’s 2014: The Year of Thriving.

We hope you join us as we change the conversation, minds, goals, and outcomes in 2014: The Year of Thriving.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Cheryl Magrini
DBSA Board Chair

Introducing Cheryl Magrini, DBSA Board Chair,

I am honored to be serving this esteemed organization—one that places the peer voice front and center in mental health education, peer support services, research, therapeutic advancements, and grass-roots advocacy on state and national mental health legislative issues. Through enacting DBSA’s mission to provide hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people who have mood disorders, my goal is that every person be treated with dignity; be accepted for who they are without judgment; be supported by their peers, loved ones and faith communities; and have timely, affordable, and ready access to mental health services at the highest level of care. 

First-hand experience has demonstrated to me how DBSA is transforming lives. I’ve participated in DBSA’s life-empowering peer specialist training, witnessed the significant role DBSA chapters play on the local and national levels, and been encouraged by the advancements made through the increasing integration of peers into the mental health workplace. More from Cheryl.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Get Involved. Join DBSA’s Expanding Advocacy Program

We are excited to be adding four new states to our grassroots advocacy program this year: California, Florida, Michigan and Texas. These states where chosen due to the role their elected officials play on key Congressional committees at the federal level, as well as based on significant mental health legislation that is playing out in these states. To help peers in these states be most effective, we are pleased to open up the application period for the Advocacy Leadership Program. Applicants chosen for the program will participate in a 3-day program held over a weekend in July in Washington, D.C.

We will be accepting up to five individuals per state from California, Florida, Michigan and California. DBSA will cover all travel expenses to Washington including lodging and meals. In return, all participants are expected to attend all parts of the training, bring information back to their home states, and help build a strong group of advocates that will focus on state-specific mental health issues.

If you are a motivated individual with the passion, skills and desire to help shape the future of mental health care, apply for this unique opportunity by requesting an Advocacy Leadership Training application from Phyllis Foxworth at pfoxworth@dbsalliance.org.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Thank you! We did it!

Your generosity and passion for wellness helped DBSA surpass our challenge grant goal of $30,000 from the Lodestar/Seachange Fund for Non-profit Collaboration.

Thanks to the contributions of peers, families, clinicians, and community members, we beat our goal and raised $70,000 to provide hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people who have mood disorders. We can't thank you enough for coming together to invest in thriving lives for people who have mood disorders.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Greg Simon, MD, MPH

Ask the Doc

Q. The labels for every one of my bipolar disorder medications say I should avoid alcohol. Is it dangerous to drink any alcohol, or is there some amount that’s safe?

A. To answer this question, we need to think about how alcohol can interact with medications and how alcohol can affect mental and physical health.

About alcohol and medications:  It is dangerous to mix alcohol with many anxiety and sleeping medications (benzodiazepines and related medications). If you are taking those medications, you should avoid alcohol altogether. With other types of medications (antidepressants, mood stabilizer medications) small amounts of alcohol (like a single drink) can be safe. But you should still talk with the doctor prescribing your medications about how alcohol might interact with them.

About the effects of alcohol on your physical and mental health:  For everyone, it’s best to limit alcohol to no more than two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women. Drinking more than that increases risk for physical health problems like liver damage, high blood pressure, and several types of cancer. Even more important for people who live with mood disorders, drinking more than small amounts of alcohol can cause or worsen depression, cause or worsen anxiety, and interfere with sleeping. The effects of alcohol on mental health can also be misleading. Drinking alcohol may have an immediate effect of reducing anxiety or helping you fall asleep. But those effects reverse increasing anxiety or depression and interfering with sleep after just a few hours. 

Finally, trying to keep alcohol below a certain limit (like stopping at two drinks) just doesn’t work for some people. If you find yourself repeatedly going past the limits you set, then you’re better off avoiding alcohol altogether.

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.

Got a nagging question you want to ask a doc? Submit your questions online for a chance to get the answer. Check the next DBSA eUpdate to see if your question was chosen.

In the meantime, take a look through our Ask the Doc feature page, a comprehensive archive of past Ask the Doc features which may already be home to the answers you seek.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen

In December, I reflected upon extraordinary achievements made last year for the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and our community of peers. I am still in awe of all that our Chapters, staff, volunteers, Board members, families, donors, and organizational partners were able to make possible in 2013. And, as can never be said enough, I thank all of you reading this for your role in making DBSA a force for providing information, empowerment, support, and inspiration.

Of course, the dawn of a new year brings the excitement of possibility, and in that spirit, we now look forward to DBSA’s 2014: The Year of Thriving! For reasons I share in this video, it is not only empowering and inspiring for us to raise our collective expectations about our health, but such “sight-raising” is also vital to preventing relapse, lowering vulnerability to co-occurring conditions, and reducing suicide risk. I look forward to working with all of you throughout 2014 to explore what it means to those of us with mood disorders to thrive, and how we can help more of our peers and loved ones to achieve the thriving lives that we all deserve.

Among many connections that my position with DBSA allows me to make, the unique partnership I am able to form with our organization’s volunteer leader—the Chair of the Board of Directors—is one I immensely enjoy and from which I learn and grow. The velocity that DBSA was able to achieve with the dynamic leadership of our now-Immediate-Past Chair, Lucinda Jewell, was thrilling, important, and took our organization into the world with boldness and intention. Lucinda is my peer, my friend, and a true inspiration, and she helps DBSA (and me!) to thrive.

And in 2014, we begin with the leadership of our new Chair, Rev. Cheryl Magrini, whose warm introductory letter is included in this eUpdate. Cheryl is an articulate scholar and builder of consensus who makes sure that her colleagues are heard and their talents and contributions honored and used to their fullest potential. Indeed, Cheryl is natural at making us all thrive, and—together with Lucinda and the rest of the Board—will build on the work of our Chapters, family and parent participants from The Balanced Mind Parent Network, and our peers in so many exciting new ways.

I thank you all for your contributions, and the velocity you bring, to DBSA as we enter 2014!

Care for Your Mind: January Highlights

According to Charles Ingoglia of the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare, 2014 is shaping up to be a year of cautious optimism around policy issues relating to access to quality mental health care. Do you share his optimism?  Read the January posts and share your thoughts online.

What Does 2014 Have in Store for Mental Health Funding and Access?
What’s the Most Neglected Topic of 2014?

Don't break the bank: Bipolar & Overspending

Check out suggestions for how to safeguard your financial security when mania and money intersect.  Read “Don't Break the Bank.”

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Inspirational Quotes
You can’t move forward if you keep looking back. –Author Unknown
The past is just a story we tell ourselves.  –Samantha, ‘OS’ character in the film Her

If something is happening in your life escape it. Do something you like or read inspirational quotes. When I get bullied or think there’s no way out I listen to music. I like music that makes you learn something.

Bipolar Disorder
Snuggling with my cats always helps.

Visit the Facing Us Clubhouse to get more tips, create your own tips, track your wellness, and connect with peers. Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and free.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

The first quarter of 2014 is in high gear with peer specialist trainings:

  • January 27–February 1: Veteran Peer Specialist Training in Chicago (applications closed)
  • March 24–29: Veteran Peer Specialist Training in Hampton, VA
  • April 28–May 3: DBSA Core Peer Specialist Training in Milwaukee, WI