DBSA Albuquerque continues to celebrate Recovery Month through Education!!!

On Tuesday, September 20, DBSA Albuquerque presenters Marion Crouse, Rasma Cox, and Steve Bringe will be presenting “Milestones in My Recovery Journey” to a class of students at New Mexico Highlands University.

The focus of the presentation is law enforcement response to peers in crisis, something our presenters all have firsthand experience with. Rasma and Steve present “Perspectives in Psychotic and Manic Symptoms” and “Deescalation” at APD’s Crisis Intervention Team training and these presentations cover very similar topics when instructing APD officers.

Wish our presenters the best of luck! We’ll have photos and reviews from the presenters later this week.


Notice: Requests to Observe DBSA Albuquerque Support Groups

Our chapter has received requests from UNM graduate program students inquiring if they may observe our peer support groups as part of their course requirements.

Unfortunately, we cannot accept these requests. DBSA Albuquerque support groups are peer-led for peers, and part of the strength of our peer support groups requires implicit confidentiality. Because of the very personal and private life experiences we share with each other, members are not comfortable with academic observers attending our support groups.

We do offer several community education programs that we have presented at both CNM and NM Highlands University. If you would like to know more about these education programs, please contact:

Steve Bringe

Thank you for reaching out to DBSA Albuquerque and thank you for your understanding.


“CCS Discharge Medications – A firsthand review of helping patients fill their prescription” by Michele Franowsky

DBSA Albuquerque sits on the board of the Bernalillo County Forensic Intervention Consortium (BC FIC) chaired by Barri Roberts. The purpose of FIC is jail diversion. This means getting peers to mental health services rather than criminal incarceration. It is with pride and honor that we assist with peer advisement for FIC.

On August 30, Dr. Bryan Lance Hurt, Mental Health Director of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center (BC MDC) shared with FIC members that CCS (Correct Care Solutions):

“Effectively immediately, CCS will now be providing a prescription for a free 14 day supply of medication to released inmates instead of the 3 day supply that was provided previously. CCS continues to provide a 30 day prescription which at the patient’s expense.”

This is incredible news and a huge step in the right direction. There have been many replies to Dr. Hurt’s email notification from FIC members, and DBSA Albuquerque is republishing a contribution to the email thread from Michele Franowsky, retired mental health social worker for the Mental Health Division of the Public Defender Department. This email is republished, in full, with permission of the author.

Hello All,

I am writing this e-mail based on my experience of being the mental health social worker for the Mental Health Division of the Public Defender Department for 14 years. As I retired one year ago, the information provided below may have changed.

During my employment with the Public Defender, I have picked up clients from MDC upon their release and transported them to obtain their specific social service needs. Sometimes, when I did not have access to a state car, I took the bus with a client.

One of the problems is that it is very difficult to navigate the system. It was difficult for me to navigate the system and I know the system very, very well. One must keep in mind that the individual has a severe mental disorder and has just been released from jail. Most often the client is dropped off downtown and has no money.

It is the client’s responsibility to check in with his/her Pre-Trial Services Officer or Probation Officer upon his/her release. To go to Probation and Parole, this meant getting from downtown to the Monte Vista/University Area where the Community Corrections Unit Probation Officer was located. (The Community Corrections Unit is the unit that is trained to deal with individuals who have mental health issues). That interview, itself, can take 3 or 4 hours. (Or at least that is what I was told when I took a client to Probation and Parole in 2013).

When it becomes somewhat of a challenge to pick up medication, clients’ motivation decreases significantly. The individual must be able to get to the closest pharmacy, usually by walking. Frequently, they don’t have the money for a bus ticket. If they do have the money for a bus ticket, they need to be well versed in taking the bus or have access to a phone or a computer to obtain the bus route.

If clients are able to obtain their two-week supply of medication (previously 3 days), the next hurdle is to get the month’s prescription filled. This means they must have Medicaid. If they do not, then the individual has to go to UNM or Healthcare for the Homeless at the prescribed times. At UNM, they may not be seen for the first three times. They are guaranteed to be seen on the fourth visit, however. Transportation to UNM is an issue just like getting to the pharmacy, except that it is a really long walk from downtown.

Another problem I frequently experienced (I dealt with the Walgreen’s on Sequoia and Coors) had to do with the medication being called in. Both PSU and most Walgreen pharmacies are always very busy. After going to Walgreen’s with no successful outcome, I learned to call them first to ascertain whether the prescription was called in. If not, then I contacted PSU and asked them to call it in. Then I would call Walgreen’s to verify that it had been called in. I was told by a pharmacist at Walgreen’s that they often had to check their voice mail to see if the prescription had been called in. Not only that, but I was told that the Walgreen’s (on Sequoia) had a second voice mail that needed to be checked as well. So when I called Walgreen’s, I had to ask the staff if they had checked both voice mails.

On one occasion, I went directly to Walgreen’s from MDC with the client at 11:00. After multiple phone calls to PSU and Walgreens, I was able to pick up the medication at 6:30 p.m. and take it to my client by 7:00 p.m. On that particular day, PSU/MDC had a crisis and my calls regarding meds for my client were simply not a priority (and nor should they have been).

I want to be clear that I am not being critical of either PSU or Walgreen’s. As I previously noted, both are extremely busy. Both endeavor to make things work. And I do not think that the solution lies in working with either entity to solve this particular problem. What is really needed is an individual to help the client navigate the system: Someone to follow up to ensure the medication has been filled; someone to pick up the medication; someone to ensure that the one-month prescription gets filled and picked up; and someone who ensures that the client gets into the system for medication management, i.e. a case manager. However, Medicaid doesn’t pay for transportation nor does it pay for case managers.

In my opinion, the real solution is expanded mental health services. Why not try to obtain funding to expand St. Martin’s, Healthcare for the Homeless, NM Solutions, or UNM to provide a one stop shop, so to speak. It would be a place where the individual could be seen by a prescribing provider and have easy access to a pharmacy. Ideally, the location would be downtown since that is where individuals are released when not picked up by family, friends, etc. upon their release from MDC.

One might expand this facility to include staff who could do psychiatric assessments for crisis situations and provide appropriate referrals. It could also include staff who consist of social workers and counselors who could provide case management services and counseling. The facility could develop a volunteer program to include peers to provide case management services.

Perhaps we could look at ways of developing such a treatment center as an alternative to AOT. One of the problems I have with AOT is that it involves the courts. Once the courts are involved, the unintended consequences would probably be increased incarceration for non-compliance. That is the only leverage the courts have. We already use the jails for non-compliance with medication management.

The other problem I have with AOT is that for it to be effective, there will be a need for expanded mental health services. Why not avoid the courts and the legislative process and deal with the solution to the problem directly?

In addition to the difficulty of navigating the system, many clients don’t want to be on medication for various and legitimate reasons. If there were a one stop shop where clients could be assessed in a crisis situation and/or receive counseling without having to be on medication (at UNM Psychiatric Center, it is not possible to be seen for counseling unless one is on medication), providers could develop long term relationships with clients. Over time and with supportive psychotherapy, clients could be engaged in treatment.

These are just a few of my thoughts. If anyone has any questions regarding the above, please let me know. Thank you.



“I Have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” Card from New Mexico Solutions

New Mexico Solutions
“I Have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” Card

Dr. David Ley, Executive Director at New Mexico Solutions, has provided to DBSA Albuquerque a PDF version of NM Solutions’ brilliant “I Have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” card that is now available to download and print from the DBSA Albuquerque website.

New Mexico Solutions “I Have PTSD” Printable Card

What is the New Mexico Solutions
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Card?
How Can the NM Solutions PTSD Card Help Me?

The NM Solutions PTSD Card is developed to be carried by peers in their purse, their wallet, or even in their pocket, and is something that a peer experiencing symptoms of PTSD can provide to law enforcement, medical providers, first responders, and anyone who could benefit knowing that, when in crisis, sometimes we peers just need a few moments to collect ourselves, to employ our coping skills, to tap into our mindfulness exercises, to think through our WRAP (Wellness and Recovery Action Plan), and with these few moments we can often subdue these PTSD symptoms on our own.

Sometimes, PTSD symptoms can appear to be confrontational, or these symptoms can make us momentarily unresponsive. It isn’t a matter of defiance or an inability to cooperate. The symptoms of PTSD can manifest unexpectedly and can be overwhelming. Anxiety, fear, panic, confusion, disassociation, difficult breathing… these are all symptoms common to PTSD.

For some peers, encounters with law enforcement and first responders is a potentially significant trigger for PTSD symptoms, and in these situations it’s often difficult or nearly impossible to communicate this simple message that is on the NM Solutions PTSD Card:

“I sometimes have panic attacks in response to challenging situations. If I seem anxious, upset, or am having trouble breathing, please just give me a few minutes and allow me to calm down. Please do not think I am defying your instructions or refusing to cooperate. I appreciate your understanding of my condition.”

In these instances, the New Mexico Solutions PTSD Card is a perfect solution for a very real need for many, many peers.

At DBSA Albuquerque, we have made the NM Solutions PTSD Card available at our weekly support groups. Now, we can offer visitors to our site the opportunity to download and print this card for yourself, your loved one, and your community.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Source: http://www.samhsa.gov/disorders/mental

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is characterized as the development of debilitating symptoms following exposure to a traumatic or dangerous event. These can include re-experiencing symptoms from an event, such as flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance symptoms, changing a personal routine to escape having to be reminded of an event, or being hyper-aroused (easily startled or tense) that makes daily tasks nearly impossible to complete. PTSD was first identified as a result of symptoms experienced by soldiers and those in war; however, other traumatic events, such as rape, child abuse, car accidents, and natural disasters have also been shown to give rise to PTSD.

It is estimated that more than 7.7 million people in the United States could be diagnosed as having a PTSD with women being more likely to have the disorder when compared to men.

Risk for PTSD is separated into three categories, including pre-traumatic, peri-traumatic, and posttraumatic factors.

  • Pre-traumatic factors include childhood emotional problems by age 6, lower socioeconomic status, lower education, prior exposure to trauma, childhood adversity, lower intelligence, minority racial/ethnic status, and a family psychiatric history. Female gender and younger age at exposure may also contribute to pre-traumatic risk.
  • Peri-traumatic factors include the severity of the trauma, perceived life threat, personal injury, interpersonal violence, and dissociation during the trauma that persists afterwards.
  • Post-traumatic risk factors include negative appraisals, ineffective coping strategies, subsequent exposure to distressing reminders, subsequent adverse life events, and other trauma-related losses.

Diagnosis of PTSD must be preceded by exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence. This may entail directly experiencing or witnessing the traumatic event, learning that the traumatic event occurred to a close family member or friend, or repeated exposure to distressing details of the traumatic event. Individuals diagnosed with PTSD experience intrusive symptoms (for example, recurrent upsetting dreams, flashbacks, distressing memories, intense psychological distress), avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event, and negative changes in cognition and mood corresponding with the traumatic event (for example, dissociative amnesia, negative beliefs about oneself, persistent negative affect, feelings of detachment or estrangement). They also experience significant changes in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic events, such as hypervigilance, distractibility, exaggerated startle response, and irritable or self-destructive behavior.


“APD Not There To Diagnose” by Marion Crouse

Originally published in the Albuquerque Journal, August 15, 2011, as a letter to the editor.
Republished by permission of the author.

“APD Not There To Diagnose” by Marion Crouse

I am a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many times at NAMI support groups, the Crisis Intervention Team unit of the Albuquerque Police Department is mentioned.

It is my understanding that the APD does all that it can to bring nonviolent people with mental illnesses to hospitals instead of to jail, and it is my understanding that the APD does all that it can, with the Crisis Intervention Team, to determine who has a mental illness and who, of these, is nonviolent.

I joined NAMI-Albuquerque in 1998 after having been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1997 while I was serving in the U.S. Navy. My purpose for joining NAMI was to seek support, to learn information about managing my mental illness, and to help reduce the stigma of mental illness on a larger scale.

My having schizophrenia does not alter my morals; I am still the same person as I was before I got sick.

For good or bad, having a mental illness does not change people’s hearts, although it can alter their minds.

So, if I do not wish to be judged as hostile simply for having schizophrenia, by the same token, if I were to commit a crime, I also could not be judged as peaceful simply because I have a mental illness. That’s a call the police would have to make in seconds, while they are approaching me to arrest me for any crime that I would be committing.

The police officers do not wish to become heroes for justice by dying in the line of duty. Unfortunately, sometimes the call “officer down” is made.

It is my opinion that it is not the responsibility of the APD to determine which criminal needs mental evaluation and which criminal is deemed legally sane when officers of the APD are threatened by an adult.

It is the duty of the APD to defend law-abiding society, and sometimes that means defending themselves.


Mental Health Response Advisory Committee (MHRAC) Meeting; July 19, 2016 – 5 PM to 7 PM – The Rock at NoonDay

What: MHRAC July 2016 Meeting
Where: The Rock at NoonDay, 2400 2nd St. NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87102
When: July 19, 2016 – 5 PM to 7 PM

Tonight, the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee is holding its July 2016 meeting. MHRAC is a group of community stakeholders dedicated to collaborating with the Albuquerque Police Department in developing training, procedures, and policies that promote positive and productive outcomes of peers and APD encounters.

MHRAC needs to hear from YOU. Peers, and their friends and families, are those community members who are directly affected by the work MHRAC is accomplishing, and these meetings open to the general public is where you can be involved in helping guide MHRAC and APD in addressing your issues, concerns and needs.

Last month, we had ten peers in the audience. DBSA Albuquerque would love to see even more of our faces in the crowd. It’d be great if you could attend, and it’d be great if you bring other peers, your families, and your friends. DBSA Albuquerque co-president Steve Bringe sits on MHRAC, so we have a very direct voice on the committee.

We hope to see you there!

Mental Health Response and Advisory Committee (MHRAC)
July 19, 2016
5:00-7:00 P.M.
2400 2nd Street NW (The Rock)
1. Welcome First Time Guests

2. Approval of June 2016 Minutes

3. Public Comment (two minutes per person, 15 minutes total)

4. Civnet Presentation (Charlie Wisoff)

5. Update from APD/CIU, Nils Rosenbaum

6. Information on Brian Settin’s meeting on AOT (Jim Ogle)

7. CASA Status Hearing Discussion

8. Open discussion and closing comments from Co-chairs

9. Next meeting, August 16, 2016


There will be no Monday Support Group on July 4, 2016

Greetings ABQeans!

DBSA Albuquerque will not be holding peer support groups on Monday, July 4, 2016, in celebration of the Independence Day holiday.

If you would like to attend a peer support group on Monday, July 4, NAMI Albuquerque Connection meets at 6:30 PM at the NAMI Albuquerque office near Menaul and San Pedro. DBSA Albuquerque co-president Steve Bringe will be co-facilitating the Connection group on Monday.

Our Monday support group will resume on Monday, July 11, at the regular time and place.

Happy 4th!


Mental Health Response Advisory Committee (MHRAC) – June 21, 2016 Meeting Agenda

Please join us at the June 2016 MHRAC Public Meeting at the Rock at Noon Day. DBSA Albuquerque Co-President Steve Bringe sits on MHRAC as a peer representative.

Mental Health Response and Advisory Committee (MHRAC)
June 21, 2016
5:00-7:00 P.M.
2400 2nd Street NW (The Rock)

1. Welcome First Time Guests

2. Approval of May 2016 Minutes

3. Public Comment (two minutes per person, 15 minutes total)

4. Replacing MHRAC member Ken Gilman

5. Update from APD/CIU, Nils Rosenbaum

6. Reverse drug buy bust arrests, David Ley, Eric Garcia

7. Update and discussion of SOP 3-29, Co-chairs

8. Update and discussion on UNM and APD MOU

9. Open discussion and closing comments from Co-chairs

10. Next meeting, July 18,


Laugh It Off: An excerpt from the new DBSA Albuquerque mental health education program

“Laugh It Off” is one of five new mental health education programs DBSA Albuquerque is offering, beginning this June with full roll out by September. We’ve given four presentations for “Laugh It Off” now, and I’ve been asked by a few folks to give an idea of what kind of jokes our comics are sharing.

I don’t have the go ahead from the other comics to share their material, so I’ll share one part of my set. Here goes.

There’s a group of peers in our community who don’t get a lot of recognition, and that’s kids growing up with a parent who has mental health issues.

I’ve got my own son, Scott, and he’s the greatest kid ever. Still, it was rough on him having to live with me as I struggled to get the bipolar stuff under wraps so I could be a parent to him.

Of course, sometimes it was a lot of fun for both of us. We’d play family games like “Cat vs. Electricity” and “Will Your Head Fit Here?”

And sometimes it wasn’t so great, like when I’d tell him that when the ice cream truck was playing music it meant they were out of ice cream.

My kid is smart. Even at 4 years old he knew enough that I was full of crap about the ice cream truck. And, he was his own form of sadist.

One morning, I woke up to take my meds, only I didn’t find my meds, I found big, melty wads of ice cream stuff into my med bottles instead.

My kid comes sauntering in, and he said to me:

“Dad, when you hear the ambulance siren screaming up the street to drag you off to the hospital it means you’re out of medication.”

If you would like more information about “Laugh It Off” and how to schedule a presentation, please contact Steve Bringe at 505-514-6750 or steve.bringe@dbsaalbuquerque.org