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DBSA e-Update March 2017

Beyond Silence Documentary
Parent Connection: Pregnancy and Mood Disorders
Starting a DBSA Chapter Webinar
PLC Live Chat about Negative Self-Talk & Self-Stigma
Impact of Sleep on Well-being Webinar Now Online
Ask the Doc: How do you find a doctor after hospitalization?
What changes are coming to Medicaid eligibility?
Don’t miss out on DBSA Core Specialist Training this June!
bp Magazine: What I Wish My Friends & Family Knew about Bipolar
Sharing Stories about Using the Affordable Care Act
Life Unlimited: Meet Mergery Wachira
Allen’s Note
Wellness Tips from Peers
Save the Date




Beyond Silence Documentary Highlights Stories of Lives Transformed by Speaking Up

On February 22, 2017, five leading mental health advocacy organizations, Getty Images, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc., and singer, songwriter and mental health advocate Demi Lovato released Beyond Silence a Be Vocal documentary made in collaboration with independent filmmaker Shaul Schwarz, Getty Images and Verbatim. The documentary follows Jeff Fink, Lauren Burke and Lloyd Hale, three very different people who share one common experience—their lives have been transformed by speaking up for mental health. The film, which can be streamed on the Be Vocal website, chronicles their efforts to live well and break through the silence often associated with mental health conditions.

Be Vocal started as a partnership with platinum-selling recording artist Demi Lovato and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, the Jed Foundation, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Council for Behavior Health, and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals to encourage those living with or affected by mental health conditions to speak up for themselves and their community.

In 2016, Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health partnered with Getty Images and award-winning filmmaker and photojournalist Shaul Schwartz to create and issue The Be Vocal Collection,which showcases the images and stories of 10 interesting people from across the country who live with various mental health conditions. The collection offers new images in an effort to reframe how people with mental health are visually portrayed in the media. To see the people featured in the project and read their stories, go to BeVocalSpeakUp.com.

DBSA is proud to partner with Be Vocal and salutes them for shining a new light on people living with mental health conditions and empowering them to speak up—to improve not only their own lives but the lives of others.

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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.

Parent Connection: Pregnancy and Mood Disorders

Choosing whether or not to have a child is a very personal decision. DBSA’s Young Adult Council recently hosted a conversation about one individual’s decision to have a baby while living with depression. Ingrid walks through the many considerations she had prior to having her twin daughters.

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DBSA Chapters

March 28 Webinar: How do I start a DBSA chapter?

Does your community need a support group for people affected by bipolar disorder or depression? DBSA chapters provide people living with mood disorders 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, information on local healthcare resources, and mental health advocacy.

If you would like to learn more about starting a DBSA chapter, join us at 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Wednesday, March 28, 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!

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

PLC Live Chat about Negative Self-Talk & Self-Stigma March 22

Certified Peer Specialist and Peer Supporters members are invited to join a live chat with your peers on PeerLeadershipCenter.org about negative self-talk and self-stigma on March 22 at 11 a.m. CDT. Learn more.

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Sweet Dreams: The Impact of Sleep on Well-Being Webinar Online

In case you missed the webinar on March 3 featuring Dr. Timothy J. Bono’s talk on The Impact of Sleep on PeerLeadershipCenter.org, you can access an archived version here.

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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.

Got a nagging question? Submit your questions to Ask the Doc online. Also, take a look through our Ask the Doc feature page, a comprehensive archive of past columns, which may already have the answer to your questions.

Ask the Doc

My family member was hospitalized almost a decade ago and she has not had problems that severe since then. Now she needs to see a psychiatrist, but no one will see her once she says she was hospitalized. Why not? I feel like something a decade ago should not prevent her from getting help now. Please advise.

In any reasonable world, having severe enough symptoms to need inpatient care—ten years ago or last week—would move you to the front of the line to see a psychiatrist. Instead, your family member was shown the back door. Unfortunately, the world of getting mental health care is often not a reasonable one. The experience you describe may be outrageous, but it is not rare. Two pieces of advice might be useful.

First, don’t be shy about this issue. If your relative is insured by a managed care system, let the insurance company know about providers who are reluctant to see patients with a history of hospitalization. Insurance companies want people at risk for hospitalization to be the first in line for outpatient care, not last. And if your relative does find a doctor or therapist willing to provide appropriate care, it might help other people to leave a good review or recommendation in DBSA’s Find A Pro Search Engine.

Second, creating a personal crisis plan can help to prevent another hospitalization. A crisis plan includes a personal listing of:

  • Stressful events or situations that can trigger a crisis
  • Warning signs to look out for
  • Self-care strategies that help when symptoms are especially bad
  • People and other resources to call on

DBSA’s Wellness Toolbox includes more information and tools to create a personal crisis plan. Sharing that plan with psychiatrists and therapists can be very helpful—and might make psychiatrists or therapists less worried about working with someone who has been hospitalized. Of course, it really shouldn’t be the patient’s responsibility to make the doctor feel safe! It really should be the other way around.

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Care for Your Mind

What changes will the new Congress and Administration make to Medicaid eligibility? Amber Kirchhoff from Thresholds, one of Illinois’ largest and longest-serving community-based mental health and substance use treatment providers, describes what effect these changes could have on the individuals they serve. Read the article.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Don’t miss out on DBSA Core Peer Specialist Training!

DBSA is excited to be holding its Core Peer Specialist Training in June, and we would love for you to join us. Be sure to act soon because the registration deadline is May 5th!

Every year, DBSA trains and certifies peers from across the country using nationally recognized trainers. These trainers have lived experience with a mental health or substance use disorder, are certified peer specialists, and have extensive experience supporting others on their recovery journey. The mental health field recognizes and respects the integral role that peer specialists play in improving mental health outcomes and decreasing stigma through the support, perspective, and hope that they lend to their peers. Many peer specialists pursue employment in the community, while others choose to focus on volunteer and advocacy roles—but whatever you do, this is a chance to make a difference.

Being a peer specialist has been the single most important part of my own recovery. Matt, VA Peer Support Specialist

Many of us who make up the DBSA community know first-hand what it is like to experience a challenge, and what a life-changing difference peer support makes in moving forward. Becoming a peer specialist is an opportunity to use your knowledge, expertise, and experience to make a difference in the lives of others, and spread hope, decrease stigma, and support your peers on their paths to wellness.

Register now, or for more information about DBSA’s Peer Specialist Training, visit DBSAlliance.org/Training.

Questions? Contact Training@DBSAlliance.org.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

bp Magazine: What I Wish My Friends & Family Knew about Bipolar

Unless you have walked a mile in my shoes, there’s no way you will ever be able to understand what it’s like to have bipolar. Read the article.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Sharing Stories about Using the Affordable Care Act

Sharing personal stories works. Case in point—thanks in part to the fact that people are sharing the value of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with family, friends, and colleagues the approval rating for the ACA is at an all-time high. According to a recent poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 48 percent of Americans view the ACA favorably. A Pew Research Center poll puts that number even higher at 54 percent.  Just as important, the negatives around the ACA are dropping as well from 46 percent in December, to 42 percent in February.

DBSA is making it easy for you to become educated about the ACA and to share your thoughts with your elected officials. In the past six weeks, DBSA has sent out action alerts asking you to call your elected officials on the days when others around the country were doing the same. This type of action has the most impact. It’s easy to know when to call—just subscribe to the DBSA advocacy platform.

You can also access the DBSA advocacy platform to obtain the phone numbers and email addresses of your elected officials. Don’t know what to tell your elected official? The DBSA advocacy platform has an excellent, easy-to-read flyer about the proposed replacement plan provided by FamiliesUSA. You can access it at this link.

Twenty-five percent of Americans say they plan on being more politically active this year. Will you be among them?

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Mergery Wachira

Read more inspiring stories. If you would like to participate in our Life Unlimited feature by sharing your story, please submit your contact information.

Life Unlimited: Meet Meet Mergery Wachira

After living with bipolar disorder for ten years, I can see that God uses the struggles of a few to save the lives of many. The early indication that I had a mental health condition was at 25, when I suddenly stopped working at a pharmaceutical firm. This strange behavior started taking its course like a river. I would spend the whole day in bed and was so restless. I grew up with no known health conditions, so the thought of having a mental health condition, much less bipolar disorder, never crossed anyone’s mind.

Where I live in Kenya, Africa, staying in bed for the whole day is considered selfish. There isn’t much known about what it is like to live with bipolar disorder in developing countries. After moving to a new environment, things got better for a while, but then, I ended up in the hospital in need of care for a severe chest infection. While there, I was also seen by a psychiatrist, who misdiagnosed me and prescribed general antipsychotics that made me feel like I was in a constant state of “black-out.”

I was finally discharged, and with the financial and moral support of my immediate family, I was able to get back on my feet. If not for them, I would not have made it through the darkest times. I remember my Mom praying by me when I couldn’t get out of bed, repeating the phrase, “there is light after darkness” in our native tongue.

With the limitless efforts of my immediate family, I was finally correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder in early 2007. This was the step I needed to get my life back and start heading somewhere. Finally, I was prescribed a medication that worked for me and I started to feel hope again.

When I felt better, I began working as a pharmacy technician. But by early 2008, the depression hit again for a grueling eight months, leading me to suicidal thoughts and nowhere to turn. In Nairobi, mental health services are highly neglected and misunderstood. There are no suicide hotlines or support and advocacy groups. Thankfully, my immediate family was there to help me find treatment again.

To continue to feel like I am participating in my life, I stay on medication and stay aware of my social behavior. When I feel depression’s force, I have to fight the battle within. When I feel like I cannot control what is happening within me, I have to struggle to control the way I respond and remember my inner power.

I’ve been living with bipolar disorder for ten years now. My journey is not about sadness, it is a journey to thrive and save lives. While mental health conditions are described as "foreign" in our developing countries, young people are suffering and dying by suicide from this "silent killer”.

I am the change I want to see in others. I have learned so much—the end of a single life can turn into a resurrection for many lives. Through my work as an education promoter, I speak about hope to teenagers in my country and volunteer with American doctors in various annual mobile health clinics. Mental health conditions might be genetic and chronic, but they do not have to lead you to end your life.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen

I am thrilled that DBSA had the opportunity to be part of the new Be Vocal documentary, Beyond Silence. Through our partnerships with fellow leading mental health stakeholders, Getty Images, and singer, songwriter, and mental health advocate Demi Lovato, we were able to add our support to bringing forth the stories of three very different people who have transformed their lives by speaking up for mental health.

We at DBSA admire the ways in which the documentary shows people of diverse backgrounds and personal situations—Jeff Fink, Lauren Burke, and Lloyd Hale—and not only focuses on specific strategies they use for maintaining wellness, but also discusses how they go about their daily lives: putting on makeup, hiking, etc. Showcasing the reasons why people get and want to stay well is exactly the message we embrace at DBSA.

If you have not had the chance to watch the documentary on BeVocalSpeakUp.com, I encourage you to do so. It is a powerful piece that embodies hope, bravery, and the willingness to improve the lives of all people that are affected by mental health conditions.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Facing Us Clubhouse

Visit the FacingUs.org to get more tips, create your own tips, track your wellness, and connect with peers. Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and free.

Wellness Tips from Peers

Care More
Depression
Watch your thoughts and words closely. If they are all negative, there goes your day.

Don’t Let Go
Bipolar Disorder
I need to remember that getting better takes work. I need to keep my appointments with my therapist no matter how hard it is.

Reason for Sadness
Depression
Think about it, the only reason you feel sad is because you’ve felt happy before and that means you can be happy once again.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

“Negative Self-talk and -stigma” Live Chat
Peer Leadership Center
March 22, 2017
11:00 a.m. Central
Learn More

Core Peer Specialist Training
Chicago, IL
June 5-9, 2017
Apply Now

Veteran Peer Specialist Training
Chicago, IL
September 11-16, 2017
Apply Now

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