DBSA e-Update February 2013

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Patrick Kennedy

Melody Moezzi

Patrick Kennedy and Melody Moezzi to Keynote DBSA 2013 National Conference

DBSA proudly announces two newly finalized keynote speakers for the DBSA 2013 National Conference: Congressman Patrick Kennedy and writer/activist Melody Moezzi. Kennedy is best known as the author and chief House sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, an act that expanded access to mental health services to more than100 million Americans. Moezzi’s writing credits include The Huffington PostMs., Bipolar Magazine, and a memoir, Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life, which is scheduled for publication by Penguin/Avery in August 2013. Moezzi and Kennedy join mental health expert and playwright/performer Victoria Maxwell and Priscilla Ridgway, co-author of Pathways to Recovery, to round out a group of prestigious and dynamic keynote speakers. In addition to the information about our speakers in the conference speaker gallery, be sure to check out DBSA’s latest podcast recording, featuring keynote speaker Melody Moezzi, who talks about her advocacy efforts and her personal experiences with stigma.

These four inspirational featured speakers join a cast of more than thirty mental health experts, clinicians, and peers who’ll be presenting during the conference. See the full conference agenda online to learn more about the sessions and presenters or download the conference brochure. The DBSA 2013 National Conference: Stronger Together takes place in Miami, FL from June 14–16.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

2013 DBSA National Conference Scholarships

DBSA is now accepting scholarship applications for the 2013 DBSA National Conference: Stronger Together. Don’t miss these opportunities to save without having to skip the trip to Miami, FL this June for three days of hope, help, and inspiration. There are three scholarship options to which you can apply:

  • Peer and Family Scholarships, sponsored by Rebecca’s Dream, enable peers to attend the conference together with a family member. The scholarships include two full conference registrations (Friday–Sunday) for a peer and their family member (a $350 value), plus an additional $200 to help defray travel costs. The deadline to apply for these scholarships is Monday, April 1. Read more about the Rebecca’s Dream scholarships and apply online.
  • DBSA also sponsors scholarships for a number of volunteers willing to aid in our event marketing efforts and to support our event staff on-site at the conference. Scholarships include one full conference registration (Friday–Sunday) (a $175 value). The deadline to apply for volunteer scholarships is March 4. Read more about volunteer scholarships and apply online.
  • Applications for a third scholarship, sponsored by the Center for Mental Health Services, will be posted to the scholarship page of the conference site by the end of this week. Please check the page in the coming days for more information about this generous scholarship opportunity for DBSA chapter members.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen

Over the course of 2012, a team of Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Board, staff, and community members collaborated on our 2013–2017 Strategic Plan, which we are proud to share with you this month. This strategic planning committee was chaired by Board member Gina LaRoche of Seven Stones Leadership Group, a leadership and management consulting organization, who facilitated a dynamic and open process of conceiving what DBSA will achieve from our unique peer perspective. Joining LaRoche were a variety of stakeholders, from chapter participants to clinicians to business and civic leaders: DBSA Board chair, Lucinda Jewell; DBSA treasurer and immediate past chair, Christy Beckmann; DBSA Scientific Advisory Board chair, Greg Simon; DBSA Board members Jim Blaha and (now-treasurer) Cheryl Magrini; DBSA staff Executive Vice President Cindy Specht; and me. We were fortunate to be advised by several additional chapter members, the DBSA staff and Board, DBSA Scientific Advisory Board member Gary Sachs, and Chris Meyer of Monitor Talent.

This dedicated group spent a year of research, reflection, and action that started with a focus on the world we are living into. We defined our likely future in the mental health community as a “frustrated world,” wherein there is “the seeming promise of available mental health services juxtaposed with the reality of inaccessibility.” Seeing this future, and based on where we are now—with a mission to provide hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people who have depression and bipolar disorder—we determined three strategic choices that will guide our efforts over the coming years. These three choices are the paths we believe will lead our community to the future we envision—one of wellness for people living with depression and bipolar disorder:

I. Peer Focus: We are peers who have/have had mood disorders and build on shared experiences to live better now.
II.Advocacy: We create and promote messages, structures, and practices that advance mental health, personal choice, and wellness.
III. Organizational Effectiveness: We provide powerful leadership to fulfill on our current commitments and stated vision with impact, accountability, and integrity.

A group of DBSA chapter leaders met with me during a teleconference on January 30, 2013, and we discussed the strategic plan and how we will all work together to realize it. The responses from this conversation were overwhelmingly positive, and we hope that you will likewise share your feedback about the new DBSA strategic plan.

Thank you for your commitment to and work with DBSA,

–Allen Doederlein, DBSA President

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Study Alert: Understanding Self-Injury in LGBTQ Individuals

A new online study wants to hear about the individual experiences of LGBTQ individuals, whether or not they involve self-injury, as a way of helping to understand this important health issue among LGBTQ populations. Participants will complete a survey online, including questions pertaining to sexual orientation, self-injury (if applicable), coping strategies, and how open they feel they can be with others in their lives. Information gathered from the survey will help researchers understand how to best support LGBTQ individuals. Find this and other studies at WeSearchTogether and make a difference in the future of mental health.

WeSearchTogether Online
Don’t just wait for a study that interests you—share your thoughts about where mental health research should go next. WeSearchTogether will be posting questions via Facebook and Twitter to find out what direction you think mental health research should take. Like and follow the WeSearchTogether social media pages to share your answers for a chance to win free swag throughout the month.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Collaborative Recovery Training for Peer Specialists:  June 17–21 in Miami 

Are you a peer specialist seeking to add to your toolbox of peer support skills and strengthen your ability to offer authentic peer support services? Plan now to attend the 5-day Next Steps Collaborative Recovery Training course for peer specialists in Miami, Florida, June 17–21, 2013.

This 5-day course will feature group exploration and relevant practice in the principles of recovery, self-care, and supporting peers in multiple dimensions of wellness and healing from trauma and its effects. 

Trainers include Rita Cronise, M.S., Steve Harrington, J.D., Lisa Goodale, M.S.W., and others involved with the Recovery to Practice initiative. Registration fee is $750, which includes training materials and beverage breaks. Participants completing the course will receive certificates of attendance for 32 hours. Please note: In order to be accepted for the institute, registrants must have completed core peer specialist training and certification in their home states or systems. 

Register today and plan to arrive early and attend the DBSA 2013 National Conference!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

So You Wanna Be a Stand-Up Comic?

Make your stand-up debut at the DBSA 2013 National Conference! DBSA and Stand Up for Mental Health are pleased to offer ten conference attendees the opportunity to be trained by comedian and counselor David Granirer in a virtual comedy course this spring. Trainees will make their stand-up comic debut at the conference in Miami, FL, June 14–16, 2013. Apply now. Application deadline is April 18, 2013. Applicants will be notified on/before May 1 if they have been selected for this unique opportunity. Comics will receive a deep discount on conference registration. 

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Mark S. Bauer, M.D.

Ask the Doc: Is a higher dose of anti-anxiety medication acceptable?

I have a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. I find it is the only thing that really helps with depressive/anxious moods. My psychiatrist does not approve of a higher dose. She thinks it is habit-forming and ceases being effective. Is a higher dose acceptable?

Some anti-anxiety medications can be habit-forming and can be abused, and sometimes are even sold on the street. This particularly is true of the benzodiazepine class (for instance, Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and some sleeping pills like Restoril and Halcion). These medications have not been well studied over the long-term—most clinical trials indicate that they are useful for anxiety over 6 weeks to 6 months.  However, many people take them for years or even decades with good effect and no need for dose increases. 

So the answer for “benzos” is, as with much of clinical medicine: It depends. If they do not make you drowsy, if you do not over-use them, if you do not require regular dose increases to maintain their effects, if you do not have difficulties with abuse of drugs, and if you are willing to give up alcohol (which can interact seriously with these medications)—and if they work for you—clinical practice overall suggests they may have a place in treating anxiety. 

If you are on a stable dose of benzodiazepines for a long period of time, it is important not to stop them (or miss doses) because you can get withdrawal symptoms and rebound anxiety that are worse than the symptoms for which you were originally given the medication. This does not mean that you’re “addicted” or “dependent” in the technical sense, but it does mean that your system has become habituated to them and you will need to taper them slowly.

There are many alternatives to benzodiazepines for treating anxiety. Depending on the type of anxiety, serotonin reuptake inhibitors (e.g., fluoxetine, fluvoxamine), serotonin-norepinephrine inhibitors (e.g., venlafaxine), and older medications like tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors may also have a role. Other anti-anxiety agents like buspirone or the antidepressant trazodone may also be options.  Note, though, that for individuals with bipolar disorder, all medications that have antidepressant properties may also increase the risk of manic or mixed symptoms, and antidepressants in general have been associated with increased rates of suicidal thoughts in adolescents.

–Dr. Bauer

Mark S. Bauer, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Associate Director of the VA Center for Organization, Leadership, and Management Research.

Got a nagging question you want to ask a doc? Submit your questions online for a chance to get the answer. Check future DBSA eUpdates 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

A New Gold Standard

Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard worked hard to overcome depression. Read all about her story and the struggles of other Olympians in the Winter 2013 issue of esperanza.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Share the Love for DBSA

Want to share with others why you support DBSA? Has DBSA made an impact on your personal recovery story? The DBSA national office wants to hear from you! We are looking for people to submit testimonials (2–5 sentences) and personal stories (2 paragraphs to a page) to feature in our creative projects and campaigns. To learn more about how you might submit your story or testimonial, email Brittany Telander at BTelander@DBSAlliance.org.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Instant Mood-lifters
I’m taking a page off a tip I saw here and listing some of my own mood-lifters: Puppy breath, new baby smell, cat’s purrs and whiskers, icicles dripping, crochet hooks and pretty yarn, lighting a nice-smelling candle, baking.

If you wake up in the morning, you’ve made it through the day past…you can make this a good day even if it’s tough: call someone, journal, take your meds. You can make this day yesterday and go on tomorrow.

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

March 4
Application Deadline
Volunteer Scholarships for DBSA 2013 National Conference
Miami, FL

April 1
Application Deadline
DBSA Peer + Family Scholarships for DBSA 2013 National Conference
Miami, FL

April 18
Application Deadline
Stand-Up Comic Training & Conference Debut
Miami, FL

June 14–16
DBSA 2013 National Conference: Stronger Together
Miami, FL

June 17
DBSA Post-Conference Institutes
Miami, FL

June 17–18
Mental Health First Aid Training
Miami, FL

June 17–21
Collaborative Recovery Training for Peer Specialists
Miami, FL