DBSA e-Update August 2011

Quick Links to Articles Below

Ask the Doctor Q & A Heroes at Risk: First Responders, Army Reserve & National Guard
3 Weeks Left to Inspire Your Peers Help SAMHSA Define Recovery
A Note from Allen Wellness Tips from Peers
Crisis Intervention Team Making an Impact in Wichita Save the Date!
Apply Today for DBSA Peer Specialist Training and Certification  

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

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.

Ask the Doctor Q & A

Is there any evidence in support of fish oil supplements to help depression in bipolar disorder?
The evidence for the benefits of fish oil (or omega-3 fatty acids) in the treatment of depression is mixed.  Some studies show moderate benefit, and some show no more benefit than a placebo.  But no studies show harm from fish oil supplements, and (unlike antidepressant medications) fish oil supplements do not seem to increase risk of mania or greater mood instability.  We would like to have more evidence, but the evidence we have now indicates that fish oil is safe and may be helpful to some people in reducing symptoms of depression.

I got really depressed in April and have been off work. The depression has just started to lift, but now I am phobic. I find going out and socializing hard work. Is this the tail end of the depression?
Losing interest in things you used to enjoy is a central part of depression. Withdrawing from positive activities can keep you feeling depressed.  As you feel better, you should start to feel more interested in things.  And pushing yourself to do things you used to enjoy will help you to feel better faster.  Phobia or phobic anxiety adds another layer.  The core of phobia is avoiding things because doing them (or even thinking about doing them) makes you feel anxious.  Phobias tend to be self-reinforcing.  When you avoid situations because of anxiety, the avoidance helps the anxiety to grow stronger.  The surest cure for phobic anxiety is pushing yourself to gradually overcome the anxiety.  That's easier said than done, but it helps to follow a specific plan.  Pick an activity that is important to you - something you would enjoy or something that you need to do to move forward in life. Chose a small and specific first step, then practice that step over and over until it doesn't make you anxious.  Once you master the first step, choose a second step that's a little more of a stretch.  And practice that one until you master it.  For example, if you're feeling anxious about social situations, your first step could be as simple as going to the grocery store every day and saying something positive to the checker every time.  They certainly won't mind.  If you have trouble making a plan or sticking with it, a therapist who knows about anxiety problems can be very helpful.

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

Do you have a question for a mental healthcare 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 by September 1st to be considered for the September eUpdate.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

3 Weeks Left to Inspire Your Peers

September 5 is fast approaching...there's only 3 weeks left to share your stories as part of the 2011 Facing Us Video contest! Sharing your personal story of living with a mental illness can offer hope to many and educate the public that recovery is possible. Your video can truly make an impact. One Facing Us visitor's testimonial shares how seeing these video stories can be life saving:

"The Facing Us internet is really cool. I love hearing the people and seeing videos of people like me. It's very important that I feel not alone and get better. This saved my life, the Facing Us website. I thank you so much for doing this internet and having video.“ 
--Comment posted by "Feeling a Little Bit Better" to DBSA's Presidents blog

Between now and September 5, 2011, you can submit your video online at www.FacingUsContest.org and have a chance to win cash prizes.

See winning videos from the 2009 Facing Us Video Contest!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

A Note from Allen

In my last note, I said something you’ll hear again and again from me: DBSA is here to listen to and articulate the voices of people who live with mood disorders. We asked to know what you need and want from your DBSA. And the response was—appropriately—diverse, urgent, complicated, and, ultimately, encouraging.

We heard from people living with depression and bipolar disorder, we heard from family members, we heard from young and old, we heard from people all over the country. The diversity of the responses makes sense: with 21 million Americans estimated to be living with depression and bipolar disorder, there’s a wide cross-section of lives that are touched, especially when you include our families, friends, colleagues, communities. We are diverse, and our concerns are sometimes unique to us.

Yet some common themes also emerged from these notes, as they tend to when we do surveys on the Consumer and Family Survey Center or conduct focus groups and phone or online listening sessions. Some of these are

As you see, in some areas, we do have useful information along the lines people are seeking. In other areas, we have more work to do. Many of the issues we face are very complicated, and the paths to wellness can be various. So thank you for helping us to understand what the needs are. And keep your ideas coming!

An unexpected, but very inspiring and moving, part of the responses to that first note were words of encouragement...


YOU CAN DO THIS!! I am praying for you!! GOD BLESS!! Congratulations!!

...and many others.

It’s amazing what a few words of encouragement can do. So that’s a suggestion I’ll make: reach out to someone, and let her or him know you think she or he is great. That she or he can achieve something big—that you believe in her or his ability and strength. It’s an amazing thing to know someone believes in you. And I believe in each of us. There need to be, and, I think, can be paths to wellness for all of us.

Thank you for joining DBSA’s efforts to help each other, and our communities, to find those paths.


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Crisis Intervention Team Making an Impact in Wichita

A news story that aired on KSN-TV in Wichita, Kansas highlights the positive and noticeable impact the Wichita Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is making and the importance of these teams in our communities.

CIT is specialized law enforcement program that trains law enforcement personnel on how to take a more effective and compassionate approach to interacting with people that are in a crisis—particularly those individuals who live with a mental illness or a developmental disability. In lieu of arresting these individuals, the officers assess the situation and determine whether or not it is appropriate to take the individual in crisis to the hospital or a treatment center.

To learn more about CIT visit http://www.citinternational.org/ or contact your local police station.

Follow story and learn more about the Wichita CIT

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Apply Today for DBSA Peer Specialist Training and Certification

DBSA Peer Specialist training courses prepare people living with mental illnesses to use their experiences and their stories to assist their peers in moving toward healthy lives in recovery. Course content delivers a foundation in recovery principles, intervention techniques and ethical practice. More than 1,000 individuals throughout the U.S. have enhanced their peer support skills and gone on to new volunteer and employment roles through DBSA Peer Specialist training and certification. The intensive 5-day training curriculum includes sessions on effective listening, using dissatisfaction as an avenue for change, Peer Specialist ethics, Recovery Dialogues©, and much more. DBSA Peer Specialist training and certification meets competency standards set by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Mental Health Services.

University of Illinois-Chicago
Department of Psychiatry
1601 W. Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60612

Registration Fee
$975 per person includes training materials, beverage breaks, and post-training certification testing.

Submitting an application does not guarantee that you will be selected. All applicants will be notified of their selection status no later than September 1, 2011.


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Heroes at Risk: First Responders, Army Reserve & National Guard

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 Summer issue of esperanza includes a special section honoring those who put their lives and their mental health on the line. Read excerpts from esperanza’s :Heroes At Risk:

Read the full article

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Help SAMHSA Define Recovery

Over the past year, SAMHSA—as part of its Recovery Support Strategic Initiative—has worked with the behavioral health field to develop a working definition of recovery that captures the essential, common experiences of those recovering from mental and substance use disorders, along with 10 guiding principles that support recovery.

Recovery from Mental and Substance Use Disorders = A process of change through which individuals work to improve their own health and well-being, live a self-directed life, and strive to achieve their full potential.

Guiding Principles of Recovery:

  • Recovery is person-driven.
  • Recovery occurs via many pathways.
  • Recovery is holistic.
  • Recovery is supported by peers and allies.
  • Recovery is supported through relationships and social networks.
  • Recovery is culturally based and influenced.
  • Recovery is supported by addressing trauma.
  • Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility.
  • Recovery is based on respect.
  • Recovery emerges from hope.

What do you think about the working definition and guiding principles of recovery from mental and substance use disorders?

Commenting is open for 2 weeks, beginning Friday, August 12, and ending at 12 midnight Eastern Time on Friday, August 26.
Read More About the Definition of Recovery and Provide Feedback

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!

When I have trouble falling asleep due to racing thoughts I focus on a calming statement. As I breathe in, I say to myself, “In, in, in”. As I breathe out, I say to myself, “Out, out, out.” This focuses my mind on one sole thought, and relaxes me immediately.

Judgment of Others
I find that in not judging others and accepting them just the way they are that I tend to not judge myself so harshly.

Healthy Body Healthy Mind
I find that taking Vitamin D when I can’t get out in the sun helps me feel better!

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 - September 5, 2011
2011 Facing Us Video Contest submissions accepted

August 22-24, 2011
Fifth annual National Association of Peer Specialists conference in Raleigh, NC

September 7, 2011
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Suicide Prevention Awareness videocast

September 24, 2011
Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk in Elk Grove Village, IL

September 26-30
DBSA Peer Specialist Training course in Chicago, IL

October 6, 2011
21st annual National Depression Screening Day (NDSD)

October 26-30
The 25th annual Alternatives conference in Orlando, FL