During Mental Health Awareness Month, DBSA is bringing you new wellness tools, wider access to online support groups, and more ways to share your views as we work to offer hope, help, education and support for everyone living with mood disorders. These are difficult times, but together we are strong.
Introducing the DBSA Wellness Wheel
If you follow DBSA on social media, you’ve been hearing a lot about our new Wellness Wheel – an easy-to-use tool created especially for people living with mood disorders. We have adapted a concept widely used in mental health to give you a new way to celebrate your strengths in 7 key areas of your life – and identify ways to build even more resilience. Explore the Wellness Wheel workbook and other free resources you can download from the DBSA website.
Your gift doubles during Mental Health Awareness Month
Thanks to generous gifts that have already come in, DBSA has met the initial fundraising goal we set for Mental Health Awareness Month, with every dollar matched by our Board of Directors. If you haven’t made your donation yet, here’s good news: our Board has extended the match, so your dollars will be doubled up to $25,000!
What to expect when you attend an online support group
With so many of us still sheltering in place, finding online mental health support is more important than ever. Did you know that DBSA has more than doubled the number of national support groups you can join from anywhere in the country?
We now offer 12 weekly support groups hosted by Support Groups Central (SGC). Each virtual meeting has room for up to 50 participants that are then divided into smaller groups so everyone has the chance to share experiences and feel connected.
Here are a few helpful tips that we hope will encourage you to try out our online support groups.
Local support groups are online, too, keeping peers connected
When CDC guidelines came out in March, discouraging groups of 10 or more from meeting in person, many of DBSA’s 500+ local support groups across the country weren’t sure how to move forward. But weeks later, hundreds of local groups that usually meet face-to-face have moved to virtual platforms so that peers can stay in touch.
Learn how community-based groups from California to Connecticut are serving thousands – and find out how you can connect with a group near you.
A note from Michael
As all of us on the DBSA national team complete our 10th week of sheltering and working from home, I want to take a moment to thank the team for their continued resilience and creativity to ensure we continue to provide hope, help, support and education to you and others who seek us out for resources. I extend my gratitude to our chapter leaders, volunteers, and partners who collaborate with us for the good of those living with mood disorders.
I keep a framed picture on my wall at home that shows the Chinese word for crisis. That same symbol also means opportunity. Across the bottom of the frame, it reads, “Opportunity is always present in the midst of crisis.” During the past couple of months, I have watched our team respond during this time to implement solutions that overcome the many barriers that exist in the current climate. More importantly, I have cheered as they sought out new initiatives and programs in this new environment to ensure that more help – and more hope – is offered to peers living with a mood disorder, as well as their caregivers and families.
As you read this month’s issue, I hope you’ll find at least one piece of information that adds to your reservoir of resiliency, sparks your creativity, or opens your eyes to a new opportunity that helps you endure through this crisis.
Is mental health being left out of COVID-19 relief packages?
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in one of the most challenging environments for supporting our mental health. Under the circumstances, DBSA is greatly concerned that the mental health component of the most recent federal COVID-19 relief bill passed by the U. S. House is not proportionate to the identified need. Only $3 billion of the estimated $35 billion that experts say is needed were included in the bill.
Last week, DBSA sent a letter to all U.S. Representatives asking for additional funding. But Representatives also need to hear from you, their constituents. We’ve made it easy for you to make your voice heard by creating a letter you can send today to your U.S. Representative and Senators.
Hill Day at Home scheduled for June 23-24
It is easier than ever this year to join with hundreds of mental health advocates to storm Capitol Hill with one voice by participating in the National Council’s Hill Day at Home, scheduled for Tuesday, June 23 and Wednesday, June 24. DBSA has been a partner of this in-person event for the past 9 years. Since then, the event has grown to include over 25 partner organizations.
As in past years, the first day is dedicated to educating advocates about key issues. DBSA Advocacy Vice President Phyllis Foxworth will join a panel discussion on telehealth, focusing on DBSA’s success in delivering community-based peer support services via phone and online conferencing. The second day provides opportunities for advocates to participate in a series of digital advocacy events.
DBSA advocates have been enthusiastic participants in the National Council’s Hill Day since 2011, and many have told us that it’s been a transformative event in their lives. Last year, DBSA advocates from 17 states participated. Because the event is virtual this year, many more DBSA participants now have the opportunity to engage.
As many chapters are now scheduling online activities, why not add Hill Day at Home to the roster? To learn more, or sign up now, click the link below. Be sure to indicate your involvement with DBSA when you register. We hope you will share this opportunity with colleagues, family, and friends to assist us in this grassroots effort to make our voices heard.
At-home resources from our Young Adult Council
During these uncertain times, it’s important to know you’re not alone. DBSA Young Adult Council members have put together a list of resources that address mental, physical, spiritual and intellectual wellness that you can use to stay safe and healthy at home. While especially useful for young adults, these resources can benefit all of us.
Supporting Youth Mental Health: Handling the disappointment of missed celebrations
For many, May is a month of celebration. With the promise of summer on the horizon, millions of young people are wrapping up the school year with a sense of accomplishment. For families, May is also filled with events and celebrations: games, concerts, spring musicals, prom, and commencement. It is a momentous time.
Since social distancing began in March, we have felt a steady stream of disappointment from plans we’ve been forced to cancel or change. Missed birthdays, social gatherings, and holidays have become part of our new normal, causing feelings of grief for many of us.
This can be difficult terrain to navigate, whether or not your child lives with a mood disorder. Since no one has a road map for these unprecedented experiences, it can be hard to find the right way to deal with disappointments.
The good news: there’s no one “right” or “wrong” way to feel right now. Here are 3 useful suggestions for parents, guardians and other family members caring for children and teens.
Feel your feelings. It is okay to acknowledge and feel grief right now. Allowing yourself these emotions is the best way to move through them. It also may help to talk about these feelings with your child. Discussing the disappointments openly can be challenging, but it can also lead to conversations around doing something different and special to honor accomplishments.
Hear your child. Acknowledge the grief of your child. The most important thing you can do is provide a listening ear and affirm that what they are feeling is normal. When you are able to validate their feelings, conversations are likely to be more helpful.
Think to the future. It can be hard to have these conversations with our young ones. It can also be hard to put things in perspective, since we’re living in a time unlike any other. What we can do is focus on the strengths we’re building together. Children who find ways to manage disappointments and acknowledge their feelings are building emotional resilience that will be with them for the rest of their life.
As adults, we may feel sad that the class of 2020 will not remember live gatherings with caps and gowns and hugs – but we can feel confident that they will keep with them the resilience that this unusual time is helping them to create.
Help researchers learn more about daily routines and mental health
Have your work, school, home, and social routines changed during COVID-19? A research team led by Professor Greg Murray of Swinburne University of Technology is looking into the ways these daily shifts can affect our mental health. If you are between the ages of 18 and 65 and are living with depression or bipolar disorder, you may be eligible to take part. Learn more and sign up by Sunday, June 7.
Although the combination of bipolar disorder plus anxiety can be complex and dynamic, medications paired with talk therapy can be an effective treatment.
Our everyday wellness tips
Surround yourself with people who support your goals and values. Think about what values guide you and how you can continue to show up with these things in mind.
Take time to define boundaries in your relationships. Think about ways in which you can have a healthy conversation with someone to speak honestly and kindly about your needs.
Is there a time of day you feel more energized? Think about your routine and what times of day you can get your best work done.
For even more resources to support your wellness journey, explore DBSA’s new Wellness Wheel.