DBSA e-Update February 2014

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Helping Our Youngest Peers through Parent-, Teen-, and Young Adult-Focused Programs

In January, DBSA welcomed the Balanced Mind Parent Network (BMPN), formerly The Balanced Mind Foundation, to our family, integrating their parent online communities and helpline into DBSA program offerings. This integration offers greater potential, through early intervention, to help reduce the severity of mental health issues for children as they grow and as they transition into adulthood.

DBSA will be building on the excellent BMPN programs to offer new tools and resources for parents and teens as well as addressing the needs of new audiences like young adults. Today, we share a new parent-focused podcast featuring Dr. Kenneth Towbin, Chief of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland. We’re also introducing a new monthly feature in eUpdate, the Parent Connection, offering news about expanded or new parent, child, and teen programming.

We are in the beginning stages of forming our new Young Adult Council and will be sharing plans as they emerge throughout the year. And, as we are committed to addressing the needs of our peers throughout the lifespan, DBSA will also be exploring new programming to support the needs of seniors, if you have specific ideas for programs that fill the void for young adults or seniors, please email programs@DBSAlliance.org.

If you’re the parent or guardian of a child or adult living with depression or bipolar disorder, you can find additional support through the BMPN online communities, helpline, and sub-site at www.TheBalancedMind.org.

Please join us in welcoming the Balanced Mind Parent Network into the DBSA family and share your thoughts on ways we can better serve our peers from the very young to the very experienced!


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

For Clinicians Section on DBSAlliance.org Now Open!

DBSA is pleased to announce that the For Clinicians section on DBSAlliance.org is now open. This section serves as a quick resource for mental health professionals to find resources for themselves and their patients. Because DBSA believes such shared decision making is vital to achieving wellness, we support initiatives that foster open dialogues between people who live with mood disorders and clinical communities in an effort to improve the quality of mental health care. We invite mental health professionals to learn more and or share their ideas on ways to promote collaborative care in the new For Clinicians section of DBSAlliance.org.

We will be expanding the information, tools, and resources under For Clinicians. Please share any ideas for expansion by emailing programs@DBSAlliance.org.


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Apply in March for DBSA Peer Specialist Training

DBSA Peer Specialist training prepares peers to use their experiences to support the recovery of others: helping inspire hope and achievement of personal goals. Facilitated by nationally-recognized trainers, this comprehensive 26-hour course delivers a foundation in recovery principles, intervention techniques, and ethical practice, addressing key competencies for this growing behavioral health workforce. Here are three spring training opportunities to participate:

DBSA core training April 28-May 2, 2014 / Milwaukee, WI (a limited number of partial scholarships is available)
Application Due: March 25.

DBSA Veteran peer training - March 24-29, 2014 / Hampton, VA
Application Due: March 4

DBSA Veteran peer training - April 28-May 3, 2014 / Milwaukee, WI
Application Due: March 25


Life Unlimited: Gayathri Ramprasad

Culture Counts

“I wish my son had cancer instead of depression” the mother of an Indian teenager I recently met said to me. “If he had cancer, I could at least share our pain with our family and friends, and ask them for help” she said, tears streaming down her face.

My heart breaks every time I hear about the deep sense of isolation many Indian families feel in supporting their loved one struggling with mental health issues. As an Indian woman who has struggled with debilitating anxiety and depression, I know first-hand the difficulties of overcoming the stigma of mental illness within the Indian community. Growing up in India, my family and I had no understanding of mental health issues. By the time I was 18, I was debilitated by undiagnosed generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. At 23, as a young mother in America, I struggled to free myself from the death-hold of depression. And, at 25, on a trip back home to India, I suffered a massive breakdown and became obsessively suicidal. Finally, my family physician recommended that my parent’s take me to a psychiatrist.

“I pray no one we know sees us here, Gayu,” my mother had whispered, scooting closer to me in the waiting room. “You never know the vicious rumors people can spread.” Read Gayathri’s Story.


NEW Parent Connection Monthly Feature

Today we debut the Parent Connection, a new column that will appear 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’ll also feature news about Balanced Mind Parent Network online support communities, the Family Helpline and other family-focused programming.

We also debut the first in a new series of parent-focused DBSA podcasts, which will showcase important emerging treatments for, and information about, depression and bipolar disorder in children and adolescents. Today’s podcast features Dr. Kenneth Towbin, Chief of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland. DBSA Parent Volunteer Coordinator Julia Small speaks with Dr. Towbin for an update on NIMH’s research on bipolar disorder in children and adolescents.  NIMH’s clinical work focuses on the differences of brain function and brain processing between children and adolescents with classic episodic bipolar disorder and chronic severe irritability. Ongoing research will further understanding of mood disorder diagnosis and treatment. 

Learn more about the important research Dr. Towbin and his colleagues at NIMH are conducting by listening to the podcast, and be sure to read the Parent Connection column each month to connect with news about DBSA parent-, child-, and teen-focused programming.


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Greg Simon, MD, MPH

Ask the Doc

Q. I have depression, and in the past have been hospitalized multiple times for attempting suicide. I don't have insurance; how can I get medication?

A. Unfortunately, your question is a common one. Access to medication treatment has two parts: access to a doctor who can prescribe effective medication and access to the medication itself.

About access to a doctor: Most communities do have public or taxpayer-supported clinics that provide general medical care and mental health care. Sometimes both services are combined in single place, and sometimes they are separate. If you already have a medication plan that works for you, then it may be appropriate for a primary care or general medical doctor to continue and monitor your medications. But if your medication is complicated, or if it needs to be re-evaluated or changed, then it's probably best to see a psychiatrist.

About access to medications: Many of the medications used to treat depression and bipolar disorder are now available in generic form, so paying for them out of pocket often costs only a few dollars a month. You should certainly ask if the medications you take are available as generics, and you should shop around for the best price. For the medications that are not yet available in generic form, many manufacturers often have patient assistance programs to supply free or low-cost medications to people who have no insurance coverage for medications.

Finally, the Affordable Care Act may make it easier for you to get affordable health insurance that covers mental health treatment. In many states, the income limit for Medicaid insurance has increased so that more people are eligible. In all states, there are new subsidies to reduce the cost of health insurance for low- and middle-income people. And all of these new insurance programs are required to cover mental health treatment just like any other kind of health care. DBSA fought many years so that people who live with mood disorders would be treated equally and fairly.

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 the next DBSA eUpdate 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

All of us at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance are thrilled to move forward with some new programs that further align us with important members of our community: young people and their parents, and clinicians.

The Balanced Mind Network brings online communities and a helpline to parents and caregivers who need information and support to guide them with respect to our youngest peers. We are excited not only to bring these excellent programs into our family, but also to expand upon them with our first parent-focused podcast and the new Parent Connection, featured for the first time in this eUpdate. With these new programs, and the development of a Young Adult Council to inform our efforts to reach this crucial age group, we are enhancing DBSA’s ability to provide resources and support as early as they may be needed in our peers’ lives.

A key partnership in the lives of many of us who have or have had mood disorders is that we have with our clinicians—this is a relationship that, at its best and most effective, is an open and honest dialogue in which productive choices towards wellness are made quickly and amicably, and then measured and adjusted as necessary to ensure continued progress. To help these important collaborators understand the needs and concerns we as people with mood issues have, we have launched the For Clinicians on DBSAlliance.org. This is the first of continued—and increasing—efforts that DBSA is undertaking to provide perspective on our lived experiences to our healthcare provider-partners.

By enhancing and increasing connection and communication in these two constituencies, DBSA is raising the bar for wellness: for young people, for our care partners, and for our entire community. Let’s work together, striving from the very beginning, to direct our collaborations towards the empowering destination of thriving.

– Allen


Care for Your Mind: February Highlights

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is proposing serious barriers to quality mental health care.  Read the recent CFYM posts to learn more and take action.


Shelby Tweten: Candid on Camera

Appearing on the TV show "American Idol" gave the young singer a chance to pursue her music dreams—and fired up her passion to stand against stigma. 

Click here to read “Shelby Tweten: Candid on Camera.”


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Inspirational Quote
"Don’t let others tell you who you are. You know you are not your illness. Their inability to understand does not make you “crazy”, “difficult to deal with”, “horrible”. So long as you are taking the steps to get better, their negativity and anger from frustration or ignorance should not be the determinant of who you are or what type of person you are. Some people are going through their own thing and will try to make others feel bad just because; don’t let them do it to you."

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

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