DBSA e-Update February 2015

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Become a Peer Specialist: Help Peers Move from “I to We” on the Road to Recovery

“The training started me on a personal path for myself that has been remarkable. I found the training to be a great gift for my own recovery and have gained insight that I perhaps would not have realized otherwise.” – JM

Get to know more about the value of Peer Specialists, and the rewards and challenges experienced by members of this new workforce, by viewing these videos.

DBSA is a recognized leader in training for 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. Designated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as an evidence-based model of care, peer support services delivered by peer specialists have been demonstrated to reduce symptoms, create commitment to treatment plans and goals, improve peers’ quality of life, and lower health care costs. 

Train with DBSA in 2015!
DBSA is proud to announce its 2015 lineup of Peer Specialist Core and Veteran training courses:  facilitated by nationally recognized trainers, highly interactive, and incorporating small group coaching and feedback sessions.

Core Training Courses

June 1–5, 2015
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Application coming soon!

August 17–21, 2015
Location information and application coming soon!

November 2–6, 2015
Location information and application coming soon!

Veteran Training Courses
DBSA offers customized Peer Specialist training courses for military Veterans. Successful completion of this training course and all associated examinations meets current peer support training and certification requirements for individuals employed by VA facilities as peer specialists.

April 13–18, 2015
Birmingham, Alabama
Download application (PDF) or apply online.

July 20–25, 2015
Location information and application coming soon!

November 16–21, 2015
Location information and application coming soon!

Bring a DBSA Core or Veteran Peer Specialist training course to a group in your area
DBSA trains groups on a contract basis, and we can customize training to meet local needs. Request additional information.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The DBSA “I to We” Weekend: A Very Special Mental Wellness Conference!

2015 marks DBSA’s 30th Anniversary of providing hope, help, support and education! In celebration, DBSA is hosting a very special national conference and leadership forum weekend this September 26 - 27. The “I to We” Weekend will offer a day 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, parent network members, young adults, advocates, and peer specialists. The entire weekend will be punctuated by celebrations of the significant contributions of people living with mood disorders as well as the individuals who were instrumental in the formation and continued growth of DBSA and our ability to deliver on our mission to improve the lives of people living with mood disorders for the past 30 years.

Please save the date and join us in Chicagoland this September as DBSA is celebrates our past—30 years of connecting people living with mood disorders to life-saving peer support, information, tools, and resources. And our future—building on the foundation that our collective lived experience has the power to improve lives—by working together to create a future where wellness is no longer a possibility for only some, but a probability for all! We are working hard to finalize all the details, and we can’t wait to share more in the coming weeks about this exciting weekend and additional “I to We” events happening in 2015!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Trevor McCauley

Life Unlimited: Meet Trevor McCauley

My journey with bipolar certainly has framed my adult life, but it hasn’t defined it.

Just getting a correct diagnosis was certainly half the battle early on.  For me I was acutely aware that I was running away from a lot of emotional issues in high school.  Once I got to college I had insight to seek professional help in dealing with them. For better or worse, the help I received lead to a misdiagnosis of depression.  I was compliant with treatment and put on a medication.  Less than two months later my sleep and eating became erratic and I became hypo-manic. This episode reached its climax when I ended up walking 3 plus miles to seek treatment at a local hospital.

Over the next two years I would wrestle life at college and the harsh reality of adapting to life on medication.  For me at this time, I viewed taking meds as the only way I was going to be stable enough to go to class. After two semesters and three credits to my name, it became clear that having success in the classroom was going to be an uphill climb.  At the request of administrators at the university, I was told not to return until I had proven I could handle life and academics at that level. I never wanted to leave, but I knew I needed to find stability in my treatment regimen and I had to develop a whole new way of staying busy while I was getting back to the classroom.  As medications allowed I read more, I exercised, I would swim at a local YMCA, and I also discovered the craft of journaling.  At first I had tons of downtime, and I would spend it at a local park, just observing the world around me and not being afraid or critical of what I wrote down. Eventually I found part-time work, which was a struggle at first.  I remember that I read The Power of Positive Thinking, and I would jot down affirmations and put them on 3 by 5 cards and read them on my way to work in order to keep myself focused and not get down about not being at the university.

Eventually I picked up momentum and I took classes at a community college.  I kept on taking the next logical step, taking more difficult classes and transferring to the next college.  In February of 2001, I covered another hurdle and I was accepted back into the University of Michigan.  In August of 2004 I received a Bachelor of Science Degree. Post-University I certainly have had struggles adapting to professional life.  There have been times where I have thought that the easiest way to achieve goals was to take a “shortcut” and get off my meds and be “normal” so I could be accepted by more people in general.  This approach backfired every time. I now know that in order to achieve my dreams staying in treatment is an absolute necessity.

Today, I am a really creative person. I have published two poetry books, composed dozens of songs, I have dozens of paintings and ceramic pieces, and I love taking photos of nature. I have tremendous creative goals (I am in the process of writing a symphony) and I know they are achievable if I have faith in myself and patience knowing that as one of my teachers put it “life is made in inches”. Having a supportive family certainly has helped in my journey. They have helped me stay true to myself, and their value as been immeasurable. Through every turn in the process I have learned that if you are determined and you focus and commit yourself to a desired outcome, anything is achievable in life.  Having a mental illness doesn’t stop you from your dreams, it provides you with an awareness that helps you become a better you.

Being a DBSA Advocate just got easier!

Announcing DBSA’s new advocacy platform.

Self-advocacy and legislative advocacy continues to be a priority for DBSA. Making it easier to not only learn about issues that affect your ability to access quality mental health care, but to also provide you with concrete suggestions on how to influence change, has been our number one advocacy goal. That is why we are pleased to launch the DBSA Advocacy Platform. Visit the site to:

Coming soon—state pages for DBSA’s six grassroots organizations in CA, FL, IL, NJ, TN, and TX. To learn how to participate in your state’s grassroots organization (GO), or if you want to start a GO in your state, send an email to Advocacy@DBSAlliance.org. We are stronger together!

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.

Molly shares her recovery journey with her Mom—Part II

Listen to the final two segments of this four part series as DBSA’s Vice President of Advocacy, Phyllis Foxworth, interviews her daughter, Molly Jenkins, about her experiences as a young adult living with a mood disorder. Part II topics include Molly’s journey to wellness and advocacy.



Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Chapter Spotlight: DBSA Princeton (NJ)

DBSA Princeton (NJ) is reaching out to their community through new and exciting ways! The chapter’s activities include bringing workshops to local psychiatric hospitals to introduce patients to the concept of peer support groups and offering their chapter as a resource for education and support. They represent DBSA and deliver the DBSA Depression Community Education Program at various health fairs—educating peers, families, and local facilities about mood disorders and the DBSA Princeton support groups. They recently identified and empowered people from a neighboring town to create a new group, bringing peer support to an area of their state which had previously lacked a DBSA chapter. Through this they are helping to build and support more leaders in the peer community. Keep up the great work, DBSA Princeton (NJ)!  

To see what some of our other affiliates are up to, visit the Chapter Spotlights section of our website!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Dr. Karen Wagner

Ask the Doc

I believe my daughter’s psychiatrist is going to be prescribing an antidepressant. What are the most important questions I should ask him about taking an antidepressant?

The first question to ask is whether your daughter needs an antidepressant or whether there are other treatments that are as effective as an antidepressant. For example, for mild depression, therapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective alternative to antidepressant medication.

If your doctor tells you that antidepressant medication is the best treatment for your daughter, then ask your doctor which antidepressant medication he plans to prescribe. Inquire whether the antidepressant is Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for treating children your daughter’s age. In general, antidepressants that have FDA approval in children have demonstrated in studies to be effective and safe in treating children that have depression.

It is important to ask your doctor about the side effects of the antidepressant medication. This should include both common side effects and rare but serious side effects. Ask your doctor what you should do if your daughter develops any of these side effects. There is a box warning about antidepressants and suicidality in children. Ask your doctor to explain what this means and what you should do if your daughter makes any statements about wanting to hurt herself. 

You should also ask your doctor if your daughter can take other medications when she is taking the antidepressant. Let your doctor know if your daughter is taking any over-the-counter medications because some of these medications can interact with antidepressants. For example, St. John’s Wort can cause serious side effects when added to some antidepressants.

Inquire about how long your daughter will need to take antidepressant medication. Often children are continued on antidepressant medication for about a year after their depression is improved. 

Before you leave the office, ask your doctor for some reading material about the antidepressant medication. This will help you to become more familiar with the medication including its use, benefits, and side effects.

Dr. Wagner is the Marie B. Gale Centennial Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Dr. Wagner is an internationally recognized expert in the pharmacological treatment of childhood mood disorders.

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

Note from Allen

Along my own personal journey towards wellness, I find that there are times when depression—which is very powerful and also prone to deceiving us—can make me feel like giving up, like I no longer know how to or even want to take a stand for myself, for my health. It is at this precise moment that I most need a peer. Someone who doesn’t necessarily take a position and tell me what I should do—“You should go for a walk;” “You should take anti-anxiety medication;” “You should get it together;” “You should get a new job;”—someone who takes a stand for me no matter what and tells me she or he has got my back—“Whatever you decide to do, I’m here for you, and I believe in you.”

I encourage everyone reading this to access peer support or participate in peer support in some way, whether through a peer support group, starting a peer support group if there’s not one in your area yet, peer specialist training, or advocating for work with peers in your treatment team. For there are many positions in mental health, and they can be the right positions at certain points of our journeys. But there’s always a need for someone to take a stand. Stand with your peers. Stand with DBSA.

Risk & Reward: Kay Redfield Jamison

Scientist Kay Redfield Jamison reveals the tough calculations that went into deciding to disclose her bipolar diagnosis in a memoir. Read the article.

News from CFYM Advocacy Blog

Have you been denied coverage by your health insurance plan? Learn what you can do.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Do NOT let your illness define you. YOU are not your illness. Who you are is greater than any diagnosis. Show that illness who is boss! You’ve got this!

Just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean you have failed. The only failure is not learning from your mistakes.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what little step you take. Just take one small step in the direction in which you want to go. Just do it and you will feel much better!

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

Mark your calendar!

April 13–18, 2015
Veteran Peer Specialist Training in Birmingham, Alabama. Apply online!

April 23–24, 2015
Parents of children living with a mood disorder are invited to attend AACAP’s annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. A limited number of travel scholarships are available for parents and their children. Please contact Advocacy@dbsalliance.org to learn more.

June 2–5, 2015
Core Peer Specialist Training in Colorado Springs, CO. Application coming soon!

September 26–27, 2015
DBSA I to We Weekend in the Chicagoland area. Learn more