New Support Groups Coming Soon!

DBSA Albuquerque is working on doubling the amount of support groups we offer! Coming this March we will be adding a group in the Northeast Heights area of Albuquerque. We are also working on adding another group near central Albuquerque. Check back soon for info on when and where!

 

DBSA Albuquerque Friday Support Group

As part of our mission to provide quality support groups for those living with a mental health diagnosis in the Albuquerque area, we host a group on Friday evenings at the Don Newton Taylor Ranch Community Center near Montaño and Golf Course. Doors open at 6:30 pm, group starts at 7 and ends at 8:30. Come enjoy our safe and welcoming peer-run group. We’ll see you there!

DBSA Albuquerque Monday Support Group

It is DBSA Albuquerque’s mission to provide quality support groups for those living with a mental health diagnosis and their families. We are peer run and peer focused. Come enjoy a safe, welcoming group on Mondays from 2 to 4pm at the Kumba Coffee shop at Downtown @ 700 on the corner of Lomas and 2nd. We’ll see you there!

 

Want to be on the DBSA Albuquerque board and help guide our chapter?

Dear DBSA Albuquerque members,

After many years guiding our chapter, I’ve made the decision to move on from our board and into a strictly advisory role for our chapter.

It’s simply time for new ideas.

I did agree to temporarily hold the position of Vice President the beginning of this year with the intent of helping with chapter reaffiliation. This interim period was planned until January 31. It’s time for our new Vice President to step up.

Because last year our board decided that my advocacy had gone well beyond the core purpose of the DBSA, which is to have SAFE, CONFIDENTIAL peer support groups, much of what I am involved with can jeopardize this safety for members. Not intentional, only potential.

So, being Vice President will entail ensuring support groups happen and that membership is increased and happy. Expanding into many areas of the city is important to this, and it is one aspect of the chapter I hope to continue to help develop.

If you are interested, please email info@dbsaalbuquerque.org for more details. It’s rewarding and lots of fun!

My tenure as President lasted three years longer than planned, and to reiterate, I have taken my advocacy passions well beyond the scope of our chapter core, peer support groups. /u

My true passion is education. It is education to expand knowledge and understanding, with the goal of breaking through stigmas that limit peer involvement and threaten peer safety. We are not our diagnosis, we are human beings who manage the symptoms of a malfunctioning organ, our brain.

For the past six months, a small group of peers have been transitioning a smooth division of my education programs and DBSA Albuquerque’s peer support groups. Over the last month, we have moved forward with gathering all processes and forms necessary to operate as a business within New Mexico and beyond (including England and Australia).

The name of our business is STAND UP TO STIGMA and our motto is “Stigma Is Temporary.” We’ve successfully completed a number of gigs with indefinite contracts like at the DOH’s Turquoise Lodge Hospital. We are training and will continue to train peer presenters across many organizations and communities. If you are interested in knowing more about our programs and becoming a peer presenter, please email info@standuptostigma.org.

I cherish my time as president of our chapter, and I am eternally grateful for the support and love I’ve received from our friends at DBSA Albuquerque. And really, peer groups are more family than only friends.

We need a new Vice President, and I am certain that taking on this position for our chapter will be just as rewarding and empowering as it was for me.

Best of mental health to you,
Steve Bringe

An observation of APD CIT training: “Because we didn’t know how to reach out to you without making it worse.”

Far too often lately (over the last year and a half), with the multitude of hardships I’ve faced, I’ve not garnered the sorts of sympathies one would expect from friends or even colleagues.

The leading excuse for saying nothing at all has been . . .


We didn’t know how to approach you and thought we’d make things “worse.”


I must assume this is because I’ve been a peer in crisis. I extrapolate this from “thought we’d make it worse.”

Er . . . So because I’m a peer in crisis, naturally I should be treated differently. Almost as if stereotyping and stigmatization are the best choices for handling a colleague on an advisement board like MHRAC.


What the heck have I been training you guys to do when it comes to deescalation of peers in crisis?


This is a topic I’ll be exploring, considering I won’t be resigning from any of these committees I’ve worked so hard to develop.

Think of it in these terms:


How can I feel confident officers in the field are usung the skills I’ve trained them for if they can’t employ these skills with a peer they know and work with intimately? And how can I tell peers who trust me that APD CIT training is working without being hypocritical?


It’s a crisis of faith, with a parting nod that I did not include persona non grata in the CIT training.

Think it over. This is a topic worth exploring.

And then I realized, using the word “Peer” makes me a hypocrite

As a peer . . . I have to ask myself, how many times do I open a blog or insert into the blog somewhere . . .


“As A Peer”


And how often do I complain that Muggles see me as a something (not someone) different, something other, something to be o upon a different yardstick measured in gradations of “How crazy does he seem compared to ‘normal’ people?”

I realized something.


Simply by saying time and again “AS A PEER” I am differentiating myself as something other and different.


And this makes me a hypocrite in some sense or another.

I’m a dude who lives by the mantra “It’s not enough to define the problem. What am I going to do to create a solution?”

And honestly, right now, I’m not certain exactly how to compose my blogs so I can yet retain “as a peer” so folks know the premise and foundation from which I write, and also convey I’m no different than anyone else. Even my teasing little word “Muggle” sets up the same perplexing quandary.

I suppose a very wordy solutions is to simply write . . .


As a peer and a person who is essentially the same as you who aren’t a peer, let me tell you about the peer experience that is essentially the same experience you have only I have mental health issues that aren’t something you contend with but with your diagnosis of hemorrhagic fever I’m sure you can relate when people choose to steer clear of you for fear your disease is contagious, which is how I’m treated…”


What a hot mess. And how endless it can become , how eternal the love for wordiness that can go very awry so very quickly for a dude like me who loves exposition. I suppose a shorthand way of encapsulating this sentiment is …


We’re all individuals with our own individual issues. Some of us share similar issues and collectively we identify as “peers.”


The silly thing is I fought hard in New Mexico to exchange the word “peer” for “consumer”, the latter sounding like an economic unit defining a person who uses (consumes) mental health services.

A change in the narrative and lexicon is at the forefront of any revolution. If you read historical texts (primary source) of our country, you’ll notice a pre-Civil War reference to our country as “The United States Are” and a post-Civil War reference to our country as “The United States Is”, a shift in conjugated being that speaks to true unity of our country.

So that’s what I’m aiming for in massaging the narrative for behavioral health. It only took two years for “consumer” to fall out of favor. Let me try to rustle up a word that speaks to individualism framed in unity with respect for collective similarities.

This is going to be a fun Rubik’s Cube of a lexicon shift.

Congratulations to the DBSA Albuquerque 2018 Board!

Congratulations to this year’s executive board!

President – Sarah Salway

Vice President (interim) – Steve Bringe

Treasurer – Frank Perry

Secretary – Megan Cox

We have a great team this year where we’ll be focusing almost exclusively on creating new support groups to provide peer support around Albuquerque and even the frontier regions of the Great State of New Mexico.

We are partnering with Stand Up To Stigma for education programs and community outreach so we can concentrate on providing the best support groups possible for our communities.

Also, Steve Bringe, vice president elect, is interested in transitioning away from a voting board member position so he can concentrate on chapter adviser and community liason. We have a few candidates interested, and we are always looking for additional interested peers for consideration.

Congrats again to our 2018 Executive Board!

In Loving Memory of Clarissa “Clare” Nina Castellano, Dearest Friend and Provider Advisor to DBSA Albuquerque

On October 29, 2017, the behavioral health world said its saddened goodbyes to Clarissa Nina Castellano.

Clarissa Nina Castellano

Clare (as she preferred to be called) graduated from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University with degrees in Psychology and Social Work, the first member of her very large family to achieve a Masters degree. Her naturally strong work ethic was noticed and commended by all, first at CYFD working with the children under her care and also at Molina New Mexico as Care Coordinator 3 and mentor to two care coordinator teams. It was at Molina that Clare shone brightest, working in the field with higher needs peers, many of whom attended our DBSA Albuquerque weekly peer support groups. The kind care she provided these peers (who she called her “little members”) was always a highlight of what they shared with our group. The amount of love and care these peers received from Clare is a rarity in the New Mexico behavioral health community. She didn’t merely go through the motions. Clare became a trusted person in their often confusing and chaotic  lives.

Clare was licensed as an LMSW in New Mexico, and with her vast knowledge and on the “front line” experience, when she accepted our request to bring her personal and professional acumen to the management of our peer support groups and education programs, our chapter and our community were instantly all the richer.

Clarissa Nina Castellano

The best way for DBSA Albuquerque to remember and honor Clare is to share a few anecdotes of why she is such an amazing person, and how her passion for helping others empower themselves was not a career, it was her calling.

Clarissa Nina CastellanoEarly in Clare’s collaboration with DBSA Albuquerque, she brought to our attention the need for transportation for many peers who would attend our groups if they could only get there. Working with Clare, we were able to be considered a “provider”  (we are not, we are a volunteer peer-run organization), and with this status many of her “little members” began attending DBSA groups using their MCO (managed care organization) medical transportation benefits. For the first time, these peers were able to come from all parts of our community to our three weekly venues that for them were always too far to travel by foot. Many of these peers continue to attend our support groups.

Clare also took part in helping to develop the SUTS (Stand Up To Stigma, in collaboration with our chapter) Laugh It Off program by attending our weekly presentation at Turquoise Lodge Hospital in Albuquerque. If you are unfamiliar with Turquoise Lodge Hospital, they are a facility dedicated to helping peers with substance issues, many of whom have an underlying and often undiagnosed behavioral health component to their daily challenges.

Clarissa Nina CastellanoLaugh It Off is a program where our SUTS peer presenters (we recruit those peers with co-occurring life experiences) stand up before an audience and do . . . stand up comedy, centered on essentially making fun of ourselves based on the horrible things that have happened in our lives as a result of our diagnoses and symptoms. As Clare put it, “If you can laugh at the horrible things that have happened to you, it takes away the horror and gives you back your power.”

At Turquoise Lodge Hospital, because we are at an inpatient facility with peers who are struggling, rather than doing a question and answer session after the comedy routines, we spin the program into a DBSA peer support group. Clare’s admiration for the successful implementation of this model got her thinking of what else we could do to make the experience as positive as possible for the patients. Because many of her “little members” contend with  co-occurring challenges, she had several recommendations for Laugh It Off.

Clarissa Nina CastellanoThe most important recommendation that was hard-fought to garner was not limiting the choice of words for the patients during the support group; at Turquoise Lodge Hospital, cursing is not allowed from the patients. Taking this recommendation/request to Jackie West of Turquoise Lodge Hospital, and combining Clare’s advice with Jackie’s insistence that providers not be in the room during Laugh It Off (including Jackie), the support group portion of the program became an open, welcome, and safe environment where many of these inpatient peers talked about very personal topics they had never shared anywhere before. They connected and realized (for many) that they were not alone in their struggles. Clare’s recommendation gave a one hour reprieve from word choice restrictions because, as Clare put it, “How can you express what is in your heart if you are constantly worried you’ll get in trouble for saying how you really feel using the words most natural?”

Clare’s calling and passion for helping others wasn’t limited to places like Molina and Turquoise Lodge Hospital. There was no “off switch” to her heart. One such illustration of this happened at Tiguex Park in Old Town Albuquerque. Having lunch with DBSA Albuquerque president Steve Bringe, Clare and he met a young couple who had just arrived in Albuquerque from Santa Fe. They were experiencing homelessness, and the young lady was in her third trimester of pregnancy. They came to Albuquerque because they knew there were better services in Bernalillo County than Santa Fe. They just didn’t know where to obtain these services.Clarissa Nina Castellano

Clare and Steve spent Clare’s lunch hour writing down notes, numbers, services, contacts, facilities . . . any and all of their combined knowledge they knew would be helpful to this young couple, this forthcoming young family. Later, Clare said, “I totally forgot to tell them out an MCO postpartum benefit! We need to go back to Tiguex Park and find them!” And that’s exactly what happened, although it wasn’t only information Clare and Steve returned with. Blankets, a backpack, and a picnic dinner accompanied them, and what was intended as a moderate amount of time spent getting to know the young couple and ensure they had as much helpful information as possible turned into an all-night camp out playing games and sharing stories.

A pet project of Clare’s we never had the opportunity to develop is literally a pet project. Clare’s dog, a Chihuahua named Hamlet, brought her such joy and comfort that she felt peers living alone would also benefit from having a canine companion. Clare’s wish was to partner with the City of Albuquerque to match shelter dogs with peers. This is still a project for our chapter to pursue, although under her guidance the project would have come to fruition much sooner and would have been successful right from the start.

Clarissa Nina CastellanoClare’s tenure as DBSA Albuquerque’s Provider Advisor was far too short in terms of the amount of time she served. In terms of the manner and magnitude of her contributions to our chapter, our peer members, and our community, Clare has changed DBSA Albuquerque deeply and eternally. It is not an exaggeration stating Clare Castellano is the finest provider advisor DBSA Albuquerque has had the honor of collaborating with in the three decades we have been a DBSA chapter.

Our community is left with a void that will never be filled. When Clare passed last October, our chapter did not lose a colleague, we lost our cherished friend and the kindest soul. Clare Castellano, among all her wonderful qualities, is irreplaceable.

May angels lead you in, Clare. Thank you for being you from your friends at DBSA Albuquerque.

 

 

More wonderful words for Clare Clarissa Nina Castellano at Steve’s Thoughtcrimes

And more wonderful words for Clare Clarissa Nina Castellno at Steve’s Thoughtcrimes

Steve’s Thoughtcrimes

Congratulations to the 2017 DBSA Albuquerque Board!

DBSA Albuquerque has elected its board for 2017! Congratulations go to …

Executive Board
Steve Bringe – President
Stephanie Juddo – Vice President
Sarah Salway – Secretary
Frank Perry – Treasurer

Board Members at Large
Megan Cox – Director, Chapter Activities Committee
Jana Perry – Director, Education & Outreach Committee

Many thanks go to outgoing 2016 Board members Rasma Cox and Yvonne Cox.

It’s a bit belated coming this year. We’ll be holding elections for our 2018 board in October, 2017. If you’d like to be part of the DBSA Albuquerque board helping to lead our chapter and manage the business of our chapter, please consider nominating yourself this coming October.

Personal note from Steve
I will not be returning as president for 2018. Line in the sand, although I will remain as a member of our chapter and offer my assistance to incoming boards as a resource and guide if requested.

While I’ve appreciated the support I’ve had managing our chapter, it’s time to allow our fellow peers the same opportunity as I did in empowering myself by being part of our board. I’m transitioning to personal educational advocacy projects that are a true passion for me which continue to include DBSA Albuquerque.

We have a great team this year and we’ve hit the ground running with the overarching theme “SUSTAINABILITY”. We’re always looking for chapter member volunteers to help out, so please consider being a volunteer for your chapter.

Huge personal apology: Certified Peer Support Worker and OPRE article

DBSA Albuquerque readers and members,

This is Steve Bringe offering you a HUGE mea culpa and HUGER apology.

The article for the Certified Peer Support Worker training that was supposed to be posted here on our chapter website, with a great amount of information on the training and OPRE, was not posted … quite obviously.

This article was not endorsed by our chapter.

What was posted was an article I had drafted for my personal website StevesThoughtcrimes.com. If you briefly cruise by the site, you’ll see that the content once posted here to the DBSA Albuquerque website is much more fitting to the Thoughtcrimes website. In fact, it was written for the Thoughtcrimes website entirely.

To any DBSA members, OPRE folks, or just anyone who might have been offended by the lack of professionalism and by my personal error, please accept my sincere apologies. In no way was it endorsed by our chapter, the fault is entirely mine.

Best of mental health to you,
Steve Bringe