DBSA e-Update April 2015

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Congratulations to our 2014 DBSA Chapter Service Award Winners

DBSA offers more than 700 peer-run support groups, all managed and facilitated by volunteer peers. These amazing individuals devote extensive time and effort to provide this important wellness resource to their communities. These local groups provide hope, help, and support, and a place to connect with other individuals who have shared experiences. Each year, DBSA recognizes exemplary service by DBSA chapters, state organizations, and their leaders with the Chapter Service Awards.

Chapter Service Award winners of 2014 will be honored on Sunday, September 27, 2015 at the Leadership Forum during the DBSA I to We Weekend.  These inspiring examples of peer support in action will receive a cash award and bulk subscriptions to bp and esperanza magazine.

The 2014 DBSA Chapter Service Awardees are:

State Organization
DBSA New Jersey is a shining example of commitment to DBSA’s mission. In 2014, DBSA New Jersey provided three facilitator training sessions, promoted support groups to mental health professionals in a variety of statewide events, hosted a state-wide advocacy workshop, broke attendance records at their state conference, and hosted the DBSA Chapter Leadership Forum.

Large Chapter
DBSA Rockland County (NY) identified “getting the word out” as their catch phrase to summarize 2014’s accomplishments. Over the course of 2014, they engaged in a variety of community outreach endeavors including a speaker series, comedy show, and educational sessions; integrated new tools such as an interactive website, Meetup.com page, and private Facebook group; and created a facilitator’s support group.

Small Chapter
DBSA Princeton (NJ) reached out to their community in new and exciting ways! The chapter’s 2014 activities included bringing workshops to local psychiatric hospitals to introduce patients to the concept of peer support groups and offering their chapter as a resource, delivering the DBSA Depression Community Education Program at various health fairs, attending the meetings of the Mercer County Mental Health Board, and adding a therapy dog, Jack, as a member of the group!

Rookie Chapter
DBSA Shanghai Tulip Mental Health Center (China) has an impressive array of accomplishments since forming in April 2014. As the first DBSA support group in China, they received overwhelming media reports through fifteen TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Their activities included submitting an opinion letter to include NGOs in governmental mental health projects, holding 19 educational meetings, recruiting 50 volunteers, reaching over 500 participants in the group, and training over 700 people about peer support.

Outstanding Leadership
Diane Dworkin of DBSA Longmont Supporting Together (CO) provides understanding and support daily to numerous people, helping them connect with the support group and providing referrals to local therapists, temporary lodging, or other programs. She coordinates a variety of fun activities such as potlucks and holiday parties, and sets up a booth each week at the local farmers market to publicize the support group as a safe, non-judgmental network and provides educational materials to passersby. According to a participant, Diane is “compassionate, attentive, patient, and has a great sense of humor. She is a genuine, hard-working advocate for everyone in the support group and beyond.”

Annie Lauri of DBSA Madison (TN) has been a leader of DBSA Madison for three years and was integral in growing the chapter into one of the most active in Tennessee. Annie helped expand the group’s attendance, developed the chapter website, and spoke about DBSA in radio interviews and at local health fairs. She created the role of hospitality ambassador to warmly welcome each person to the meeting and send handwritten notes inviting them to return, and coordinated a holiday celebration. Beyond DBSA Madison, Annie is active with the state organization DBSA Tennessee as an inspiring speaker at nursing panels, and acts as a kind and compassionate mentor to new chapter leaders.

Visit our chapter spotlight page to learn more about these amazing chapters and leaders!

I to We Weekend

Register NOW! DBSA I to We Weekend Early Bird Rates Available

We invite you to join us, September 25–27, 2015, at the beautiful Eaglewood Resort and Spa, outside of Chicago, for three days of a very special mental wellness conference and leadership forum! Register now for the best registration rates. The DBSA I to We Weekend will offer two days of educational programming for peers, parents, families, friends, and the public as well as a day of in-depth training and networking opportunities for community leaders—chapter participants, parents, young adults, advocates, and peer specialists. Early bird rates are available until May 24, so act now!

If you are interested in a scholarship for waived registration fees, please apply.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Reminder: Share Your Perspective on Spirituality! Deadline May 10th

What are your thoughts on the relationship between spirituality or religious faith and mental health?  DBSA will use results from our Spirituality and Wellness Survey to help us develop programs to support wellness and recovery.  This information will also help us to inform mental health providers and clergy or other religious leaders. Take the Survey

Attention Colorado: The DBSA I to We Tour Comes to You in May!

DBSA is crossing the nation this spring and summer on the DBSA I to We Tour with the goal of shifting the focus in mental health from “I to We”—from eliminating illness to building wellness; from isolation and fear to a welcoming community of support; and from individual views to powerful, collective voices!

The first stop on this multi-city tour will be in Colorado Springs, CO, on May 16, 2015, when the national organization of DBSA joins forces with six local mental health organizations—AspenPointe, Cedar Springs Hospital, DBSA Colorado Springs, NAMI Colorado Springs, Peak View Behavioral Health, and Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention—to host the From Illness To Wellness Community Mental Health Fair featuring a special presentation of the DBSA I to We Tour. This free day of wellness will feature a morning DBSA I to We Tour presentation; a networking lunch; and an afternoon filled with educational and inspirational talks about building wellness, more than 50 exhibitors, and connections with life-saving mental health resources. Lending her voice to the DBSA I to We Tour Colorado Springs stop will be Melody Moezzi, JD, an award-winning author, United Nations Global Expert, and mental and civil rights advocate.

Please join us Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 10 a.m. at the El Paso County Citizens Service Center, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO 80907. RSVP by May 8th for your free lunch at www.DBSAlliance.org/CO or by calling (719) 473-8477.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Free Agitation Educational Webinar

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
5:00–6:00 PM Central

Everyone feels antsy, fidgety, or restless from time to time. But some people develop a more severe form of uneasiness called agitation. They may pace, wring their hands, or feel that they can’t sit still or focus. People living with mood disorders may be more disposed to experiencing agitation. Recognizing the signs of agitation and knowing what to do when they appear can be helpful to people with mood disorders and their loved ones.

Please join us for a webinar that will highlight what agitation looks like, the impact it can have on individuals and their caregivers, and treatment options.



Scott Zeller, MD
Chief, Psychiatric Emergency Services, Alameda Health System
Past President, American Association of Emergency Psychiatry

Tom Lane
Member of the DBSA Board of Directors

Colleen King

Life Unlimited: Meet Colleen King

When I was eight years old I announced that when I grew up I was going to be a famous artist and live in Paris. My mother, then a full time college student, instilled the belief that I could be whatever I wanted. She sat me and my twin siblings down to inform us that we could attend any college we desired for free because our father died. As a kid, I didn’t understand anything about social security or Veterans survivor benefits; I just knew that my mom had given me a dream to hang onto.

Creating art was an escape that helped me cope with the suicide of my father in our home and the subsequent emotional numbness that enveloped my mother. When I was 19 years old, my brother had his first psychotic break, and I was scared that I would be next. After ten years of watching my brother decompensate with severe mental illness, I began to have uncontrollable crying spells that baffled me. Already confined in depression, intense fear that something horrific was about to occur crept in and swathed me in anxiety. I desperately sought relief from the heaviness that weighed down the muscles needed to speak, much less smile. With determination and faulty reasoning, I figured I would find out what was wrong and fix it so that I could get my life back. It wasn’t an easy fix, and I couldn’t do it by myself.

After being diagnosed with major depressive disorder and taking anti-depressants for several months, I rocketed into rapid cycling and was hospitalized for the first of many times in 1992. After many medications and more hospitalizations I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The mania symptoms I experience are not the classic type you see in movies. I mostly experience dysphoric mania, which is the concurrent presence of depressive and manic symptoms, the most dreadful state I’ve ever endured. Imagine feeling despondent, exhausted, detached and hopeless while simultaneously agitated in warp speed. I could not sleep or eat, was confused as racing thoughts spun in my brain while what felt like jolts of energy zapped through my torso into my extremities.

Read more

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Protect Our Youth by Supporting Legislation that Can Save Lives

One in five students lives with a mental health condition. The suicide rate for children between the ages of 10 and 14 has doubled in the past 20 years. Over 70% of students diagnosed with a mental health condition in middle school exhibit warning signs in 2nd grade. What can be done about this? 

Parents and children from DBSA's Balanced Mind Parent Network participating in the AACAP Legislative Conference believe much can be done. And on April 24 they will visit their national Representatives to tell them there is a lot they can do as well by voting to pass the “Mental Health in Schools Act”. When passed and fully-funded, this national legislation will award block grants for on-site school based mental health services.

What effect can this legislation have? One SAMHSA study reveals that after one year of receiving mental health care, 16 percent of students reported lower depression and 21 percent lower anxiety. Given that 90% of individuals who die by suicide live with an underlying mental health or substance abuse condition, on-site school based mental health services can save lives!

If you can travel to Washington, register to participate in this event. Unable to make it to Washington? Your voice still matters. Contact your national Representative and tell them to vote “yes” for HR 628 The Mental Health in Schools Act. Go to the DBSA Advocacy site to learn how to contact your national Representative. Your voice matters and matters to the four million children and adolescents living with a serious mental health condition.

2015 DBSA Peer Specialist Training Opportunities

DBSA is a recognized leader in training the peer specialist workforce: people who use their lived recovery experience to assist others in regaining hope, making the most of their chosen paths to wellness, and moving forward to achieve their goals. Here are your next opportunities to participate in a DBSA peer specialist training course: facilitated by nationally recognized trainers, highly interactive, and incorporating small group coaching and feedback sessions.

Core Peer Training Course       
June 1–5, 2015
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Download application (PDF) or apply online 
Application deadline is May 4, 2015

Remaining 2015 Core training course dates are August 17–21 and November 2–6.

Veteran Peer Training Course
July 20–25, 2015
Chicago, Illinois
Download application (PDF) or apply online
Application deadline is June 19

Peer Specialists: Take Your “Next Steps” in Continuing Education
Are you already certified as a peer specialist and seeking to add to your toolbox of peer support skills? Plan now to attend a Next Steps Training Course and earn 32 hours of continuing education credits! 
Next Steps is continuing education for peer specialists developed by the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) and DBSA under the SAMHSA-supported national Recovery to Practice initiative. This highly-interactive 4-day course features group exploration and relevant practice in:

  • The transforming power of recovery
  • The complex simplicity of wellness
  • Effects of trauma on recovery
  • Influence of culture on recovery
  • Dual recovery
  • Peer support values and guidelines
  • Strengthening workplace relationships
  • Supportive recovery relationships

Next Steps is based on a cooperative learning model in which facilitators guide a process (rather than teach) and participants actively contribute (rather than passively listen). The whole group benefits from the wisdom of practical lessons from the field. See additional information.

Please note: In order to be accepted for participation, registrants must have completed core peer specialist training and certification in their home states or through VA nationally-designated peer specialist courses.

Upcoming Next Steps Courses

May 19–22, 2015                              
Application deadline is May 4
Tacoma, Washington
Apply online
Application deadline is May 4, 2015

September 28–October 1, 2015
Itasca, Illinois (following the DBSA I to We Weekend Wellness Conference & Leadership Forum)
Apply online

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The  Parent Connection appears each month in the DBSA eUpdate. Here, parents and guardians can expect to find up-to-date information and resources about parenting children and adolescents with depression and bipolar disorder. We also feature news about Balanced Mind Parent Network online support communities, the Family Helpline and other family-focused programming.

Building Resiliency in Kids

As parents, we all want our children to grow up healthy, happy, and free of any pain. However, this is not possible nor practical when you consider the amount that is learned when a person experiences an emotional or physical hurt. Kids must experience some struggles in order to understand joy. They must see the pain around them to learn compassion. These bumps in life are what make us who we are and must be experienced.

We can, however, help teach our children how to learn from and bounce back from difficult situations—to help them build resiliency. All children are born with natural resiliency, but they also need parents and other adults in their life to help them sustain and build upon it.

Resiliency can help protect your child from many mental health conditions and it can also help those already experiencing a mental health condition to more effectively cope.

Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, MS Ed, author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings, utilizes the 7 Cs Model of Resiliency to present many ideas on ways to build resiliency. The 7 Cs include:

  • Competence: When we notice what young people are doing right and give them opportunities to develop important skills, they feel competent. We undermine competence when we don't allow young people to recover themselves after a fall.  
  • Confidence: Young people need confidence to be able to navigate the world, think outside the box, and recover from challenges.     
  • Connection: Connections with other people, schools, and communities offer young people the security that allows them to stand on their own and develop creative solutions.
  • Character: Young people need a clear sense of right and wrong and a commitment to integrity.
  • Contribution: Young people who contribute to the well-being of others will receive gratitude rather than condemnation. They will learn that contributing feels good and may therefore more easily turn to others, and do so without shame.
  • Coping: Young people who possess a variety of healthy coping strategies will be less likely to turn to dangerous quick fixes when stressed.
  • Control: Young people who understand privileges and respect are earned through demonstrated responsibility will learn to make wise choices and feel a sense of control.

To learn more about the 7 Cs and ways you can help increase your child’s resiliency, visit Dr. Ginsburg’s website, Fostering Resilience. No matter the age of your child, it’s never too late or too early to encourage resiliency skill building!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Greg Simon, MD, MPH

Ask the Doc

My doctor tells me that I am “drug resistant” and I can’t seem to find a medication that helps. Any suggestions?

Before talking about next steps, we should be careful to use words that put the blame where it belongs. I wouldn’t say that you are “drug resistant”. I suspect you really do want medications to work for you, and you’re probably doing everything you can to help out. If the medications haven’t helped you, it may mean that your mood disorder is “drug resistant”. Or maybe some of your brain receptors are “drug resistant”. This may sound like splitting hairs, but I think the difference is important. We certainly need to move away from old-fashioned ideas that patients’ “resistance” is the reason why treatments sometimes don’t work. Unfortunately, the treatments you’ve tried have failed. But you haven’t failed.

When medications that are usually effective for treatment of mood disorders don’t work, there are some questions we should be sure to ask:

  1. Do we have the wrong diagnosis? Standard antidepressant medications may not help if the correct diagnosis is actually bipolar disorder. Many people with bipolar disorder have taken medication for depression for years before arriving at a correct diagnosis.

  2. Is some other chemical getting in the way? Alcohol and street drugs (including marijuana) can certainly interfere with the effectiveness of antidepressant or mood stabilizer medication.

  3. Did we give it a good enough try? Most medications for depression or bipolar disorder take two weeks or more to really work. The full benefit may not be clear for a month or more. And the dose needs to be high enough.  For several mood stabilizer medications and some antidepressant medications, measuring blood levels can clearly indicate if the dose is high enough to be effective.

And sometimes, we just have to keep trying. Research on “drug resistant” depression shows that persistence can pay off.  Only about 40% of people who start taking an antidepressant have a significant benefit from it. Another 25% will benefit from a second medication. If we continue to try a third and even fourth medication, the percent of people who benefit does go down, but it’s still more than zero.

Some day we hope to have more scientific methods of predicting what medication to try when other medications have not worked. For now, the best tools we have are persistence, hope, and paying attention.

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 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 Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Allen's Note

Thank You to Our Dedicated Volunteers!
This National Volunteer Week, April 12–18, 2015, we celebrate all DBSA chapter leaders, advocates, Balanced Mind Parent Network volunteers, Young Adult Council members, and Board members for fulfilling our mission in their communities and nationwide. DBSA was founded by peers like us who envisioned the life-saving power of peer support being available to all who need it. Thirty years later, hundreds of volunteers devote their energy and enthusiasm to run our chapter network of more than 700 support groups serving 54,000 individuals. In the same spirit, DBSA’s Balanced Mind Parent Network volunteers provide comfort and direction to help caregivers support our youngest peers, members of the DBSA Young Adult Council work to fight stigma, build connections, and spread awareness, Board members devote time and energy to building the foundation of DBSA, and the voices of our grassroots advocates help eliminate stigma and ensure everyone has access to quality mental health services.

Each of these volunteers is a powerhouse of strength, passion, and kindness. DBSA could not be the strong, thriving organization it is today without their vital contributions. DBSA is proud of our volunteers every day, and there are never enough opportunities to share our heartfelt thanks for their significant dedication and contributions. It is an honor and a privilege to work with you.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Bipolar & Triggers

Positive and negative stress can spark a mood shift.  Learn about strategies that put you back in control. Click here to read more.

News from Our CFYM Advocacy Blog

Can coordinating physical and mental health care improve overall health? Let us know what you think.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

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.

Today is the only day I can live. Be present and enjoy the ride!

Recovery Focus
Don’t let other people’s moods affect your own. As best as you can, detach from them and move yourself to another place, another room, or outside, etc. Take a few deep breaths through your nostrils and out through your mouth, and you’ll find yourself able to cope with it all.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

May 16, 2015
DBSA I to We Tour
From Illness to Wellness Community Mental Health Fair
Colorado Springs, CO
Learn more

May 19–22, 2015
Recovery to Practice Next Steps Training Course
Tacoma, Washington
Apply online
See additional information

May 20, 2015
Free Agitation Educational Webinar
5:00-6:00pm Central Time
Register now

May 24, 2015
Early Bird registration for DBSA I to WE Weekend
Register now

September 25–27, 2015
DBSA I to We Weekend Wellness Conference & Leadership Forum
Learn more

June 1–5, 2015
Core Peer Specialist Training in Colorado Springs, CO
Download application (PDF) or apply online

September 28–October 1, 2015
Recovery to Practice Next Steps Training Course
Itasca, Illinois (following the DBSA I to We Weekend Wellness Conference & Leadership Forum)
Apply online