Pride Month: Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community
In June we celebrate pride month and honor the progress that has been made by LGBTQ+ activists. As we celebrate progress it is also important to be mindful of the continued disparities and challenges LGBTQ+ people face, and how they are faring in terms of their mental health. Unfortunately, many face a lack of acceptance by family members, teachers, colleagues, and society. Because there is a lack of access to resources that address the unique needs of the community, even though LGBTQ+ individuals experience stigma and trauma at a higher rate, they are less likely to seek treatment.
- 1 in 3 LGBQ adults live with a mental health condition compared to 1 in 5 of heterosexual adults
- According to the 2015 US Transgender Survey, 40% of transgendered individuals have attempted suicide
- LGBTQ+ individuals are three times as likely to experience a mental health disorder and 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety
LGBTQ+ youth were heavily impacted over the past year. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth. They surveyed LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 across the United States at the end of 2020 to get a better picture of how 2020 impacted their mental health.
- 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
- 12% of white youth attempted suicide compared to 31% of Native/Indigenous youth, 21% of Black youth, 21% of multiracial youth, 18% of Latinx youth, and 12% of Asian/Pacific Islander youth.
- More than 80% of LGBTQ+ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful – and only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth found their home to be LGBTQ affirming.
- 70% of LGBTQ youth reported their mental health was “poor” most of the time or always during COVID-19.
- 48% of LGBTQ youth reported they wanted counseling from a mental health professional but were unable to receive it in the past year.
- Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all of the people they lived with attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected by anyone with whom they lived.
Whether you identify as LGBTQ+, an ally, friend, or family member it is important to be mindful of these disparities and know what resources might be useful. Below are some organizations that are doing great work in the LGBTQ community.
The Trevor Project concluded their survey by listing a myriad of ways the youth surveyed found strength and experienced joy despite hardships. Many of the themes that came through were related to having access to safe spaces where their gender identity and sexual orientation can be affirmed. If you are a parent or caregiver, family member, or friend consider how you can affirm and show up for your loved ones this Pride Month and year-round.
2021 Leadership Summit
When our community comes together, the learning and sharing benefits can be amazing. DBSA is proud to bring back its Virtual Leadership Summit, Sept. 27-October 1, 2021. The Virtual Leadership Summit will be an opportunity to learn, share information, and grow in your ability to become an inspired, powerful advocate in the mission to improve wellness for people who live with mood disorders.
The full Summit agenda is available here. This year’s highlights include:
- Nearly 50 concurrent sessions
- 8-hour Facilitator Course within the conference dates
- Five full sessions on how different aspects of the Wellness Wheel can be utilized
- A Keynote Interview with two-time Emmy award-winning actor, Maurice Benard. Maurice will share his story about living with bipolar for more than two decades.
- Advocacy sessions in nearly every timeslot
- Offerings from the Young Adult Council on Transitions as well as a powerful follow-up to their podcast “A Letter to My Younger Self”
Learn About Research and Clinical Trials
DBSA’s mission is anchored by our deep commitment to supporting and improving the lives of people who have mood disorders. We strive to promote a number of ways to address the unmet needs of people living with mood disorders. Research and clinical trials are an essential way to increase our understanding of mood disorders, develop new treatments, and determine which treatments work best for which people. That’s why DBSA encourages peer participation in research and clinical trials.
The value of peer support services, the effects of delayed diagnoses on treatment efficacy, the economic opportunity costs of under-employment, and mood disorders in the workplace are just a few of the questions which research initiatives try to explore. It is important to note that participating in research is not for everyone, and some research studies have risks.
Showing Gratitude to Long-time Funder, Dalio Philanthropies
Generous, enduring partners like Dalio Philanthropies are essential to powering the work we do at DBSA. From their first gift to DBSA in 2009 to today, Dalio Philanthropies has played a vital role in helping our community grow and evolve over the last decade and beyond. We are truly grateful for their dedication to ensuring individuals living with mood disorders have opportunities to achieve and maintain wellness.
Bipartisan U.S. House Bill Improves Access to Peer Support for Medicare Beneficiaries
DBSA joins with other mental health advocacy partners to express strong support for recently introduced legislation to provide access to Medicare billing for Peer Support Specialists. The bill H. R. 2767, the “Promoting Effective and Empowering Recovery Services in Medicare Act of 2021,” or the PEERS Act, introduced in April by Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Adrian Smith (R-NE), recognizes the unique role of peer support specialists and includes the first comprehensive definition of peer support specialists in federal legislation.
Peer support specialists (PSS) are people in recovery from a mental health condition or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) who have completed specialized training and supervised fieldwork to help those experiencing similar issues. They are credentialed by the state where they live to deliver peer support services and complement clinicians as part of an integrated behavioral health team. Among their duties is assisting individuals in achieving their recovery goals, providing wellness information, and emotional and other support services.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recognizes peer support as effective and evidence-based. Peer support promotes recovery by helping individuals:
- engage with their treatment services;
- manage physical and mental health conditions;
- build support systems; and
- live self-directed lives in their communities.
Advocates hope that the legislation when passed will prompt more providers to take advantage of these underutilized services. The bill is needed because it is currently unclear whether Medicare will cover peer support, so clinicians may not be referring patients who could benefit from these services. By contrast, Medicaid reimburses for peer support services for patients with mental health issues in most states.
“There aren’t many who can even recognize what a peer support counselor is,” Chu, a member of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee and a clinical psychologist, said in an interview. She added that “there is a stigma against using mental health services, but peer support” can make it easier for people struggling to get help.
The bill comes as lawmakers look to address the mental health toll of the COVID-19 pandemic that has made the need for mental health care even more prevalent. According to the latest data from the CDC, thirty-five percent of adults are reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression. The COVID-19 crisis exacerbates a pre-existing behavioral health workforce shortage, particularly in rural areas and communities of color. These policy changes represent an opportunity to develop a peer workforce that reflects the communities served and understands their unique mental health needs.
Your Voice Can Make a Difference
Please support this work by forwarding this message to colleagues, family, and friends who are passionate about the cause to assist us in the grassroots effort to make our voice heard.
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Learn How to Incorporate Your Preferred Treatment Outcomes When Working With Your Clinician
Last fall, DBSA participated in a live interactive discussion about how peers can work with their clinicians to identify treatment options centered around their preferred outcomes. Shared decision-making (SDM) is a collaborative process between the peer and their health care team which achieves better peer-centric results.
Maria Margaglione, DBSA Programs Director, shared DBSA wellness resources that can assist peers in preparing for visits with their clinicians. Two DBSA peer advocates shared their perspectives on the value of peer support and on working with their mental health care teams to support the whole health outcomes they are seeking.
The hour-long video presentation, led by a peer advocate, a psychiatrist, and a primary care provider, consists of three sessions and explores the following topics:
During the first session of this presentation, the expert panel discusses elements of shared decision-making; the peer’s role in managing their condition; how to set treatment expectations based on the peer’s strengths, goals, and resources, including the DBSA Wellness Tracker; and available treatment options.
Session 2: Tackling Symptoms of Depression
This session covers weighing treatment risks and benefits with your health care team, including managing side effects. What do you do when symptoms persist despite following treatment recommendations? How do you determine the need for more complex and combination regimens? One tool to use in evaluating what you want to add or remove from your wellness regimen is the DBSA Wellness Wheel.
Session 3: Purpose and Hope
The expert panel closes the program with a discussion about purpose and hope. They discuss the importance of having a patient-centered treatment plan, self-care strategies, and support, including peer support groups.
Upon completion of this session, peers and caregivers will be able to:
- Identify barriers that prevent optimal outcomes in patients with depression
- Talk with health care providers about the risks and benefits of new treatment options for continuing depression.
Watch this free educational video presentation to learn more.
Mood Crew Monthly: Excited’s Extraordinary Summer Bucket List
Excited from the DBSA Mood Crew™ has new resources he is elated to share with you! With summer here, Excited is jumping for joy with all the fun he knows he will have. Excited created a new summer bucket list activity to help you and your child get excited for the season ahead!
I’m Living Proof: Bipolar Does Not Define Me
In the second episode of I’m Living Proof: A Letter to My Young Self, we hear from Lauren, a DBSA Young Adult Council member, about her first experience with hypomania. Lauren talks about her experiences from setting up treatment to difficulties with insurance. Lauren’s letter reminds us that you can learn to live successfully with bipolar and not be defined by it.
Young Adult Council: Tips for Self-Advocacy
Charting Your Own Wellness Course was DBSA’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Month in May. We asked members of our Young Adult Council to share their experiences and tips to strengthen their sense of self and wellness by practicing self-advocacy skills.
The four life areas identified are school, work, healthcare settings and personal and home life. Discover ways that you can work on self-advocacy that are consistent through each of these areas.
Wellness Tips from the DBSA Wellness Wheel
Routines can be helpful for our mental health. Try taking some time to check in with yourself on how your routines are going. Is there any routine that isn’t serving you well? Try replacing a routine that isn’t working with something that might feel more supportive to you!
With summer here we can enjoy some of the longest days of the year. What ways can you incorporate nature into your wellness strategies? Whether it is going for a walk, spending some time on a porch or venturing to the beach, how do you want to appreciate being outdoors this summer?
Intellectual wellness can help us to feel more curious and open to new ideas. Is there some type of creative outlet you want to try adding to your wellness strategies? Consider whether art-making, collecting, reading, listening to new podcasts might be something that can help boost your intellectual wellness.
Continue your path to wellness with the DBSA Wellness Toolbox. Explore each aspect of your wellness by creating your own Wellness Wheel and keep track of your mood and wellbeing with the Wellness Tracker.
Explore the Wellness Toolbox