DBSA e-Update May 2016

Quick Links to Articles Below

Mental Health Awareness Month
Webinar: How Do I Start a Chapter?
Parent Connection: Tips for a Successful Summer
Ask the Doc: What kind of clinician do I need for depression?
bp Magazine: Handling Hypomania
Become a Peer Specialist
From the DBSA Peer Leadership Center
Creating Positive Awareness to End Discrimination
News from Our Advocacy Blog: Educating Members of Congress
We Are Powerful! I Am Resilient
New Survey: Mood Disorders and the Workplace
Help DBSA Win the $100,000 Art Van Challenge!
Allen’s Note: Celebrate Mental Health
Wellness Tips: Confidence! Living! Setting Boundaries!
Save the Date

Support Mental Health Awareness Month. During these four weeks we join hands with organizations across America to promote better public understanding of mental health conditions. Today, unfortunately, there is still no shortage of stigma, discrimination, traumatic emergency room experiences, and lawmakers who need to be better informed. We have come a long way in the past few decades, but there is still a great deal of work to be done.

Please use your power this month to advance the cause of mental health awareness in any way you are able.

  • SPEAK UP: Consider sharing DBSA’s May posts on your Facebook page. Or use the DBSA I’m here… program to ask for support or help a friend or loved one who is struggling. You can download materials from DBSA’s website to share with family and friends to start the conversation about mental health. And to learn more about key issues in mental health, go to DBSA’s advocacy blog Care for Your Mind. Make your voice heard this month—we all need you!

  • EMBRACE YOUR POWER: This year’s We Are Powerful campaign reminds us that we as peers are powerful in our own lives, in our communities and in the world. If you are participating in the campaign’s monthly personal challenges, we hope you are beginning to see how much inner power we all have!

  • BECOME A LEADER: As an organization, DBSA has always been in the forefront of change—change that betters the field of mental health and creates wellness for people with mental health conditions. Last February we formally launched the DBSA Peer Leadership Center, the most comprehensive web site now available for the peer provider workforce. Members can access this online portal to network with other peer supporters, learn new skills through the extensive education offerings, and find employment. Response to the site has been tremendous. In the first three months since its formal launch, 1,374 individual peers have registered with the PLC (our goal for the entire year was 1,200!) as well as 35 organizations with job opportunities or interest in peer supporters. Growth has shown no sign of slowing down!

  • SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE: DBSA also pushes for change in mental health by advancing knowledge of the peer experience. To date, our Survey Center has sponsored more than a dozen surveys and this month we are very excited to launch a new survey, Mood Disorders and Employment. It explores the peer experience with all aspects of employment and the job search, and is designed so that the results can be used to not only inform DBSA programming, but educate employers how best to address mental health in the workplace. Share your employment experiences.

  • SUPPORT DBSA: Support Mental Health Awareness Month and programming when you support DBSA in the Art Van Challenge! Learn how your gift may help DBSA receive an additional $100,000 in support of our work to improve the lives of our peers.

To make the change in mental health awareness we all wish for, we count on everyone to do their part, whatever it may be. Together, as a nation, we must not stop pushing for new ideas, education, laws, and support systems that will improve both treatment and quality of life for all people living with mood disorders.

May 25 Webinar: How Do I Start a DBSA Chapter?

Are you curious about starting a DBSA chapter and support group in your community? DBSA chapters provide people living with depression and bipolar disorder the opportunity to find comfort and direction in a confidential and supportive setting. In addition to a free, open-to-the-public support group, chapters often develop other initiatives, including educational programs, newsletters, lending libraries, and advocacy projects.

If you would like to learn more about starting a chapter, join us at
5 p.m. CST on Wednesday, May 25, for a complimentary webinar. You’ll get an in-depth look at what DBSA chapters do, how they are run by peers like you, and what kind of training, resources, and support DBSA provides. Register today for this special webinar!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
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 Helpline and other family-focused programming.

Tips for a Successful Summer

School will be ending soon and children will be home for the summer. Here are a few quick tips to help set the stage for a successful school break.

Keep the Same Schedule
During breaks, it’s easy to let sleep and meal schedules slide. Consider maintaining the same wake and bedtimes for your child, as well as times of meals and other weekly rituals. Keeping a schedule can help set expectations and maintain day-to-day normalcy.

Incorporate Exercise into Your Schedule
Incorporating outdoor play, a daily walk, gardening, or other physical exercise can help burn extra energy and combat mood symptoms. Consider having a few different exercises to rotate throughout the summer or have a list of options for your child(ren) to choose from. You may also want to consider adding family chores to the schedule.

Create a Summer Wish List
During the summer, it’s not hard to find pockets where your child has free time. Sometimes it’s easy to fill that time and sometimes not. Help your child create a wish list of summer goals, like reading a particular book, practicing an instrument, learning to paint, finishing a puzzle, or other fun activities that they can do on their own. You could also help your child list larger wishes that you can do together, like a trip to the zoo or beach.

Try New Hobbies as a Family
Summer is a great time to try out new activities for your family. Take turns coming up with ideas and consider repeating successful items. Your family could try tennis, pottery, board games, hiking, performing a skit, and many other items.

Take Time for Yourself
For many parents of children with mood disorders, self-care is often put on the back burner. Ensuring your own well-being is important and can often provide the fuel needed to care for your family. Consider setting aside time for yourself, whether for a trip to the gym, time spent with friends, uninterrupted time with a book or magazine, or participating in group support, either in person or online, like the Balanced Mind Parent Network.

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 Doc

I’ve had a depressive disorder for years and am finally looking for help. I’m bewildered by the choices: there are psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and psychologists. Where do I start? 

All of those labels are confusing, because some of them are about the degrees that people have and some are about the treatment they provide. Psychiatrists are medical doctors with MD degrees and they can prescribe psychiatric medication. Some psychiatrists also provide psychotherapy or counseling, but that is less common than in years past. In many states, nurse practitioners can also prescribe psychiatric medications. Primary care doctors actually prescribe the majority of antidepressant medications, especially for people with less severe or complicated depression.

Psychotherapy or counseling can come from people with a variety of trainings or degrees, including psychologists who have PhD degrees; social workers who have MSW degrees; and other masters-prepared therapists who typically have MA or MEd degrees. Psychologists usually have more years of training, but all of the types of therapists mentioned here have completed classroom training and clinical supervision before getting certified or licensed.

All people holding these degrees might be called therapists or counselors because that is the treatment they provide. Some states also allow other types of registered counselors, but they may not be required to have any specific training or licensure. So a person with specific training that provides psychotherapy could be called a counselor, everyone called a counselor may not have that specific training. That’s important to understand.

So where should you start? If you have a family or primary care doctor you trust, that can be a good place to begin. Most primary care doctors know how to diagnose depression and can help you think about different options for treatment. If you already know that you want to see a therapist, you’ll probably need to start by calling your insurance company to get a list of therapists (PhD, MSW, MA, or MEd) covered by your insurance. And you may still want to check with your primary care doctor for recommendations.

Starting by seeing a psychiatrist makes sense for people who have more severe or complicated depression. Here as well, you’ll probably need to start by finding out about your insurance coverage. If you are interested in seeing a psychiatrist who can provide both psychotherapy and prescribe medication, be sure to ask the doctor about that up front.

Finding any kind of mental health provider can be difficult. People don’t tend to share recommendations about psychiatrists or therapists as freely as they share recommendations about dentists or car mechanics. If you find a mental health provider you like, be sure to share your recommendation on DBSA’s Find a Pro page.

See all Ask the Doc articles or submit a question.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

bp Magazine: Handling Hypomania

There’s no denying the allure of hypomania, but there are real risks to leaving it untreated. Self-knowledge plus practical strategies will keep you from crashing. Read article.

Become a Peer Specialist

DBSA is pleased to announce two peer specialist core training courses. A class for Veterans will take place in Virginia, October 24-29, 2016; you must register by October 3. A non-Veterans, training is scheduled for September 19-23, 2016, in Los Angeles, with a registration deadline of August 29.

Please note that the registration process for trainings has changed: registrants must now submit payment at the time of registration. For information on finding outside funding support, visit DBSAlliance.org/FindingFunds. You must also submit your application online. If you have questions about these sessions, please contact us at Training@DBSAlliance.org.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

From the DBSA Peer Leadership Center 

June 10 Webinar: Working as a Peer Specialist within Managed Care
Free registration for certified peer specialist and peer supporter PLC members

Managed care offers an interesting career path for peer specialists. Sue Bergeson, National Vice President of Consumer Affairs for United Behavioral Healthcare, will present what peers are doing within managed care organizations (MCO), the nature of the work environment, what an MCO wants to see in a job candidate, and how to find open positions. Register now for the June 10, webinar at 11 AM Central.

Become a Peer Leadership Center Member
Join forces with the leading community of peer support! The Peer Leadership Center is dedicated to advancing the field of peer support and the peer provider workforce. Memberships are available for both individuals and organizations. Sign up now for a free membership and take advantage of resources, networking, education, and employment.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Creating Positive Awareness to End Discrimination

How will you create positive awareness in your community to end discrimination around mental health?

It’s easy to identify heroes—people who may or may not ask to be in the limelight but whose courageous actions attract attention. It’s just as easy to believe that we can’t emulate these role models even though we may have the desire.

Fortunately, DBSA provides opportunities that will empower you to be a hero without ever leaving your community or your backyard. It can be as easy as responding to a DBSA request to email your elected officials. Last month DBSA asked subscribers of the DBSA advocacy platform to inform decision makers in Washington DC why limiting access to antidepressant medication for Medicare Part D beneficiaries was a bad idea—and 25 percent of you did.

You can also share knowledge. This year, members of our mental health parity team began reaching out to DBSA chapters with an educational program about how to maximize mental health insurance benefits. Participants in 19 chapters can now pass along their learning to friends, family members, and colleagues.

For those looking for more hands-on opportunities, DBSA has grassroots organizations in California, Florida, DC-metro, Illinois, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Texas. Participants track and follow legislation in their state that supports access to quality mental health care. They also create community education and outreach programs to create awareness of mental health issues. To learn about their successes, read DBSA’s advocacy newsletter Making Mental Health Matter.

You, too, can contribute! In fact, DBSA wants to make it easy for would-be advocacy superheroes to find their capes. Just contact us at Advocacy@DBSAlliance.org and we’ll find a cape that’s just right for you.

News from Our Advocacy Blog: Educating Members of Congress

Educating Members of Congress on the value of peer support is vital for receiving VA funding. Learn how Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) is getting the word out. Read article.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

We Are Powerful!

DBSA launched in January a year-long campaign, We Are Powerful, exploring the tremendous personal power we each have but may have forgotten or not yet discovered. Peers, parents, and families are encouraged to embrace or reclaim this personal strength in their own lives, the lives of others, and the world. 

As part of the campaign, we are looking at a different aspect of personal power each month; May’s theme is I Am Resilient. This month, observe and think about your thought process. What percentage of your thoughts are negative? If it’s a big number, what can you do to shift draining negative thoughts to powerful positive ones?

Has positive thinking made a difference in your ability to bounce back from adversity? Tell us about it on Power Points Friday, May 27, on our Facebook page.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

New Survey: Mood Disorders and the Workplace

Sound Off about Your Workplace Experiences in a New DBSA Survey!

Have you experienced stigma from workplace colleagues? Have you disclosed your mental health condition to a supervisor? How supportive have family members or friends been about your working? We want to hear all about these workplace experiences and a lot more in our new survey, Mood Disorders and Employment. If you currently hold a job, have had a job in the last twelve months, or are actively looking for a job, you are eligible to participate. The survey is open until August 10, with results available on the DBSA website in late fall 2016. 

While Mood Disorders and Employment is considerably longer than previous DBSA surveys, it will still take you only five to seven minutes to complete. We believe that the greater detail will make the results of interest to a wider audience.

Please help us work toward a better work environment for all peers—take the survey today! Your participation is greatly appreciated.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Help DBSA Win the Art Van Challenge $100,000 Grand Prize!

May 18–June 22

DBSA was chosen to be part of the 2016 Art Van Charity Challenge! It’s a friendly fundraising competition on CrowdRise, running from May 18 to June 22, 2016. Human service organizations in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois will try to raise as much money as they can and Art Van Furniture will award cash prizes to the top fundraisers. The organization that raises the most money will receive a $100,000 donation, second place $50,000, third place $25,000 and fourth through tenth will be given smaller awards. Organizations keep all the money they raise.

Please help us win the $100,000 Grand Prize by joining our team! Beginning May 18, visit the CrowdRise page where you can contribute as little as $10. If you want to have a bigger impact, set up an online fundraiser—it takes no more than five minutes—and reach out to your network of friends and colleagues. Go here now and click "Fundraise for This Campaign." Then share it with everyone you know to start raising money. Every donation makes a difference, no matter how big or small. The Challenge period closes on June 22 at exactly 1:59:59.

Your efforts will help DBSA bring critical programs and life-saving support to people everywhere who live with mood disorders. We couldn’t do it without you!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen

Celebrate Mental Health, but Let’s Ensure that Everyone’s Invited to the Party

I write this having had less sleep and more caffeine (okay, okay—and more sugar!) than I should have had over the past several days. In an ironic twist, the numerous important activities in May, Mental Health Awareness Month, can make those of us in the mental health field busy and stressed enough that some of our normal, healthier choices may fall by the wayside.

Thankfully, I have plans and support for such times, should they tip me from wellness to illness. I have people whom I’ve asked to help me re-align and stick to a regular sleep-wake cycle; folks who gently guide me towards protein and fruits and vegetables rather than, well, pie. Among my support group, work colleagues, family, and friends, I have sounding boards and perception-checkers. I have good clinical partners, specialists and general practitioner alike, who know my goals and help me make decisions about my health in relation to those goals. And, crucially, I can pay for my health care thanks to insurance and full-time employment in a rewarding position with people I respect and trust; I can also access providers in a large urban environment. In short, I have a great combination of hard-won, time-tested plans to manage a mood disorder; established structures to build the mental health that can counterbalance the times when I’m ill; a knowledgeably assembled and caring team to support me; and the good fortune to have insurance, employment, and real access to health care.

Yet, believe me, even with all of that good fortune and that individual power, it can still be challenging—indeed, debilitating and overwhelming—to cope with a mood disorder! Depression and bipolar disorder are real, serious conditions where the stakes are literally life and death. So, even as my own individual power feels great (and largely helps me stay overall pretty well), I know I must continue my work in partnership with you: DBSA’s thousands and thousands of constituents. We provide support in peer support groups; have increasing opportunities to be part of care teams as peer specialists; and can uplift and inspire others. What’s more, we exponentially intensify our individual powers as we coalesce into a movement that advocates for the civil right that all people should have a fighting chance to be healthy rather than ill.

So May is absolutely I month in which—no matter how exhausted, stressed, or full of pie I may be—I celebrate the power and good fortune of my mental health! And that celebration also calls me to action, for everyone deserves to celebrate, but without our continued education, support, and advocacy, not all of our peers are truly invited to the party.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Inspirational Quotes
Some of us are born confident. Some of us learn confidence from the love and care we experience growing up. Some of us have to find confidence for ourselves, not knowing where we may find it but having faith that we will.

Inspirational Quotes
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” This means each day IS the life we are making. Our life is what we do every minute.

Hidden Disability at Work
Bipolar Disorder
The standard working environment is chaotic and demanding. I get into situations where I trigger mania by trying to multi-task like everyone else. But the truth is I have a disability. I can consciously choose not to approach my career as others do and set clear boundaries.

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

DBSA Peer Specialist core training course
September 19–23, 2016; Virginia; Registration due Aug. 29

DBSA Veteran Peer Specialist core training course
October 24–29, 2016; Los Angeles; Registration due Oct. 3

DBSA I to We Weekend & Leadership Forum
November 11 & 12; Learn more or register.