Petitions & Peer Endorsement

As an active peer advocate in the New Mexico Behavioral Health Community over the last five years, I’ve learned there is one highly-sought commodity in our behavioral health community that is treasured over all others:


Peer Endorsement.


Any number of agencies, organizations, legislators, individuals, companies, etc. would love to get the “peer stamp of approval” for whatever product, project, or purpose they’re championing. Peer endorsement lends validity, credibility, and substance to behavioral health causes in a way no other type of endorsement can.

One way peer endorsement is achieved is through petitions. You’ve been handed a clipboard any number of times in any number of places. Heading in to vote. At the grocery store. At a sporting event. Someone knocking on your front door to ask you if “You’ve Heard the Good Word.”

The thing about petitions is the dude handing you the clipboard will give you a thirty second, rapid-fire spiel explaining what the petition is for and how you can help. It’s a thirty second sales pitch, and you’re asked to give your name in signature form at the end of that thirty seconds.

The pitch always sounds great. Sign this petition and you’ll be helping education. Sign this petition and you’ll be saying our community needs to be tough on crime. Sign this petition and you’ll be standing up to proclaim “NO WAY” to poachers who prey upon unborn gay whales.

But what can you learn in that thirty seconds that tells you exactly HOW your signature will be used? Who has access to your signature? Is the cause just or even real?

As a peer, your signature is worth its weight in gold-encrusted diamonds with a shiny platinum filling. Your signature says “I am a person living with mental health issues and I sign your petition because I believe what you say is just and true, and I want everyone to know you have my support.” Signing that petition is peer endorsement, and you’ve given it away for free with no consideration other than thirty seconds of explanatory sloganeering.


Here’s the advice: Don’t sign petitions.


There are so many reasons for this. I’ve already detailed many of them. The most important reason for passing on petitions is just this:


Your word, your voice, and your support is your greatest strength and your greatest gift to our communities.


Be sure of what you’re signing, and if you have only thirty seconds to decide, chances are the guy with the clipboard hasn’t earned your signature, your support, and your endorsement.

X__________________________________
Sign here to add your name to those who agree with everything I ever say without question! (just joking)


Reprinted with kind permission of Steve’s Thoughtcrimes

Announcing DBSA Albuquerque’s partnership with Stand Up To Stigma!

DBSA Albuquerque is excited to announce our partnership with Stand Up To Stigma, LLC. This collaboration ensures our support groups and chapter members continue to benefit from the education programs Stand Up To Stigma (SUTS) offers to our communities, to help empower DBSA Albuquerque peers by offering their voices to the community, and to broaden our peer support groups to communities not currently served by our standing weekly meetings.

Stand Up To Stigma is a peer-run and peer-owned company bringing peers to our community to share their life experiences and stories living with mental health challenges through a number of education programs. The goal is helping others understand the peer experience because through education and understanding, the biases, prejudices, and stigmas surrounding peers are acknowledged as real and exposed as falsehoods.

We are looking forward to our continued close collaboration with Stand Up To Stigma and all the benefits this partnership brings to peers and our communities.

DBSA Albuquerque and Stand Up To Stigma strongly believe that . . .

Stigma Is Temporary

Who wants to hear a story about a bridge?

So Salty and me were presenting “Laugh It Off” at Turquoise Lodge last Friday, and the support group part of the presentation was going great, and then Jackie’s stand in (our babysitter to make sure we don’t do anything untoward or triggering) jumped in with some comment or another that totally sucked the joy out of the room. I’m going to pick on this lovely young lady to cover my own secret shame that will not be secret soon. Truth told, our handler was very professional and super great, but as Jackie noticed for the past couple of weeks, having her in the midst of the group changed the dynamic.

So there we are, Salty and me, and our handler was not part of the circle of peers by prior planning, and we were laughing and crying and laughing and offering kind words and support and everything else that happens in a peer support group. Our lovely handler jumped in with a comment, from outside the circle, and the conversation dead stopped. What did I say with the wisdom of a thousand Yodas?


“Oh, man, you are such a buzzkill.”


Aw, crap. I caught my error immediately. It wasn’t difficult to miss, like Rosie O’Donnell making her perigee-syzygy. Aw, crap. Crap!

Splendid. I just (jokingly) called someone a “buzzkill” in a room of detox and rehab patients. Thing is, that got the conversation jump started again with laughter and snickers. I made so many apologies, tried to spin it into “You see? This is how deep into our everyday language stigmas run.” Whatever. I messed up. Badly. So unprofessional. And this was the first time our handler sat through this performance.

Just splendid. I made apologies again to the group, and the consensus was it was just fine and no one was offended. Funny dynamic, support groups. Making that stupid faux pas actually made me more popular with the group. Thank the Yodas.

Buzzkill. Dang it. I’m better than this. Sigh.

Reprinted with kind permission of the author from Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.

Pardon Our Dust!

The DBSA Albuquerque website is undergoing a major redesign, taking in suggestions and requests from our members and our community. The goal is to have a much more intuitive and informative site based on the needs of our communities.

Pardon our dust during the redesign, and check back for new content and opprortunities to support your Albuquerque Chapter.

Hypokalemia: Potassium and Mental Health

After one of our chapter members was hospitalized for extreme psychosis with symptoms resistant to psychotropic medications, it was realized by providers that low potassium level was the causal factor for these symptoms. This condition is called hypokalemia and produced psychotic symptoms completely separate from their bipolar diagnosis.

Dr. Ellen Hong has a definitive article concerning the link between hypokalemia and mental health.

https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp-rj.2016.111103

A 41-year-old African American woman with a past diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and medical history of hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was brought to the emergency department for auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions. Upon initial evaluation, she was irritable and agitated and reported active suicidal ideation associated with voices accusing her of being a murderer. She had recently moved into her brother’s apartment due to financial hardship and was unemployed. Family history was notable for a brother with schizophrenia. The patient denied a history of illicit substance use. Medications included hydrochlorothiazide for hypertension and albuterol as needed for COPD. The patient had been maintained on clonazapam and paroxetine for depression for the last several years without recent medication adjustment but had run out of medications a week prior to admission. Routine laboratory tests on admission revealed a potassium level of 2.3 mEq/L and negative urine toxicology.

DBSA Albuquerque Board – Vice president position

In a conversation with our president Sarah Salway, I’ve agreed to remain on as DBSA Albuquerque vice president for the year of 2018. There’s much work to be done during transitioning our chapter, and much of this work will require I be on the executive board to complete for our chapter.

Best of mental health to you

Steve Bringe

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