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

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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.

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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

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Spring is coming, and so are DBSA Albuquerque get-togethers!

The temperatures are warming, the sunlight is hanging around a little longer every day, and if it weren’t for the winds today and the impending spring winds of New Mexico to come, we could do pretty much every event outside. But we won’t, because their are cool things inside, too.

Here’s a small sampling of the things we’ll be offering our community, with the single idea of:


Let’s allow the friends we make while at group to meet each other, learn more about each other, and enjoy each others’ company with folks who won’t judge or expect you to be symptom-free to enjoy going out.


DBSA Albuquerque events:

  • Weekly Bosque Walks
  • Sunday visits to any of the Albuquerque and New Mexico museums and parks.
  • “Laugh It Off” performed weekly so our community will under what it is like to live with mental health challenges… and we’re always looking for new comics!
  • Monthly education nights around the city that focus on practical information peers, friends, and families can use.
  • A tour of the 911/242-COPS Call Center (this is a way cool one!)
  • Periodic out-of-city geology and history tours led by Steve Bringe – This requires coordinated transportation.
  • Visits to our state’s National Parks, including our own local Petroglyph National Monument. – We are organizing a talk from NPS employees on the Access Card and how to obtain one.
  • Bowling Nights.
  • City Park barbecues.
  • Peers performing our education programs, “Laugh It Off”, “Milestones In My Recovery Journey”, and “You Cant’ Always See It” to live audiences, with questions and answers afterwards.
  • Our established weekly Game Night, of course.
  • Health Fairs where YOU can come help represent our chapter and our peer community.
  • A Peer Wellness Conference in September. This is going to take a lot of work and we’ll need your help to make it a success.
  • And so so so so so much more!
  • This is just to give you an idea of what we’ll be up to as a chapter this year and into coming years.

    The other main reason for all these events, beyond education, beyond companionship, beyond having fun… For those with mental health challenges, it’s so easy to stay home in bed and isolate. We really want to offer folks a reason to get out of bed into the world. Come to any group. There’s not a one of us who hasn’t isolated because of our symptoms.

    Whew! That’s a lot, although when you think in terms of I’ve been putting this stuff together and planning everything for four years now, it’s not as overwhelming of a task as it might seem.

    Let’s get out when the sun is high, have some fun, and get to know each other better outside of group.

    Let’s get out because it’s great for our wellness and recovery.

    Let’s just get out!

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Jackie West of Turquoise Lodge is Changing the Narrative One Email at a Time

Every Friday a pair of peers perform comedy inpatient at Turquoise Lodge Hospital for the “Laugh It Off” education program. The idea is to show that it’s okay to talk about your mental health issues and substance issues, and better yet, it’s okay to laugh at the ludicrous things we do at times. Being able to laugh about these sort of horrible things that happened in our lives takes away some of the power the horrible things hold over us.


If you aren’t familiar with Turquoise Lodge, Turquoise Lodge Hospital provides inpatient detox and rehab services to our community friends experiencing challenges with substances, sometimes with a co-occuring diagnosis.

Our colleague Jackie West at Turquoise Lodge Hospital carries these powerful lines in her email signature that resonate. Think “I have bipolar” rather than “I am bipolar”:


Language is powerful. Choose less stigmatizing words. Be the Change.


Substance Abuse -> Furthers the stigma.

Choose: Substance Misuse


Clean -> Implies a using person is ‘dirty’.

Choose: Sober or Substance-Free


Relapse -> ‘Relapse’ has moral roots.

Choose: Reoccurrence


Addict -> Negative label.

Choose person first: Person with a Substance Use Disorder

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February 15, 2017 – Happy Behavioral Health Day, New Mexico!!!

Of this past week, Wednesday, February 15, 2017, can be considered the day that the State Legislature of New Mexico truly stood up and declared that the stigmas surrounding and permeating mental health issues will be a thing of the past. It was on February 15, this week, that Senate Memorial 83 (SM0083) passed through the Senate of our New Mexico legislature, and this day will henceforth be known as…


BEHAVIORAL HEALTH DAY!!!


Introduced by Senator Mary Kay Papen, the memorial strives towards understanding, education, hope, and innovation in our state’s behavioral health community. Senator Papen has long been one of our strongest voices in the state legislature, and this was a much-earned personal victory for her endless efforts towards making the lives of peers and their loved ones as joyful and successful as they can be.

DBSA Albuquerque’s Steve Bringe (awardee of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Mexico Behavioral Health Planning Council) and his father Stanley Bringe, along with other BHPC awardees and personnel, had the distinct pleasure of being on the Senate floor during Senator Papen’s speech on SB0083, and as it subsequently passed unopposed.

Later that afternoon, the House Memorial for Behavioral Health Day also passed unopposed.

February 15, 2017 – New Mexico Behavioral Health Day. Superb.


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that February 15, 2017 be declared “Behavioral Health Day” in the senate and that the senate recognize the many people who devote themselves to public policymaking on behalf of the thousands of New Mexicans who live with behavioral health disorders; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the theme for “Behavioral Health Day” be behavioral health in New Mexico — innovation in action;


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DBSA Albuquerque is on the go!

Get set for DBSA Albuquerque’s web presence to get a lot more dynamic. We’ve got a good team in place scouring the webernet for news, inspiration, and plain ol’ fun.

https://www.facebook.com/DBSAAlbuquerque/

http://dbsaalbuquerque.org

Follow us. Follow, I say! Follow and win a chance for a 5.4 pound coprolite (dinosaur poop). I kid you not. Shipped right to your door!

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Free Parking for DBSA Albuquerque’s Monday Support Group @ Wells Fargo (200 Lomas NW)

Parking has been very limited for our Monday Peer Support Group at the Coffee Shop. We are happy to announce that DBSA Albuquerque is collaborating with Wells Fargo Bank to provide FREE PARKING for folks attending our Monday group.

The best entrance for parking is from 3rd Street, on the east side of the road. This is just south of Lomas.

Just let the Wells Fargo employee in the toll booth know that you are with DBSA Albuquerque for our Monday support group, either on the way in or the way out.

The Wells Fargo parking lot is directly across 2nd Street from The Coffee Shop. You can’t miss the building. It’s the big multistory building that has the “Wells Fargo” sign at the top. It’s also the building that is lit up with green lights at night.

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DBSA Albuquerque is collecting winter clothing and items for The Rock at NoonDay

DBSA Albuquerque is collecting any winter clothing (coats, jackets, gloves, hats, hoodies, socks, etc.) and winter items (sleeping bags, blankets, backpacks, etc.) you might have to donate for Albuquerque’s folks experiencing homelessness.

You can bring your donations to any DBSA Albuquerque support group each week.

Monday:
2 PM to 4 PM
The Coffee Shop/Downtown @ 700 2nd
700 2nd Street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
At the SE corner of Lomas and 2nd.

Thursday:
6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
The Rock at NoonDay
2400 2nd Street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87120
Just south of the Menaul and 2nd intersection on the east side of 2nd Street. Look for the big building with the green metal roof.

Friday:
6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Taylor Ranch Community Center
4900 Kachina Street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87120
Across the street from Mariposa Basin Park at the intersection of Kachina and Taylor Ranch. This is just north of the Taylor Ranch and Montano intersection.


For more information about The Rock at NoonDay and the services they provide our community:

Karen Polich
Development Director
The Rock at NoonDay
505.573.4648
development@therockabq.com
www.therockabq.org

Biblical Hospitality for the Hungry, Homeless and Hurting.

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Milestones In My Recovery Journey: DBSA Albuquerque & New Mexico Highlands University

DBSA Albuquerque presented “Milestones In My Recovery Journey” at New Mexico Highlands University, at the Rio Rancho campus. We were invited to present by Dr. Linda Silber for her criminal justice/law enforcement class, focusing on peer interactions with law enforcement, told from personal life experiences of Rasma Cox, Marion Crouse, and Steve Bringe.

Rasma and Steve sit on the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee (MHRAC) and also present at the CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training for the Albuquerque Police Department. Marion also has very positive and helpful views concerning APD.

Dr. Silber was kind enough to provide feedback from the students, as well as her impressions of our DBSA Albuquerque education program.


Dr. Linda Silber:

I think it’s very important for students entering any aspect of law enforcement to know more about mental illness generally. Your panel of experts was very helpful in debunking stereotypes. The group was informative and interesting. I especially liked the Q & A section, and appreciated that the presenters were willing to answer any question. And the fact that the presentation was informal made it more possible for students to relax and feel comfortable asking questions.


The Students:

I thought it was very admirable that these individuals came and were able to be so transparent and unashamed of the difficulties they were experiencing.  They were able to discuss, brainstorm and problem solve the areas in their life that they felt needed to work on.  These three individuals were very well inspiring and I would recommend them for another class.  I personally as a future law enforcement agent would like to know how  I could better help them when I am out on the streets. 

The presentation was good, I enjoyed the presenters and how they added their personal stories so that we can understand their point of view. The fact that they are involved with the police organization is a good idea to help others who may deal with the same issues. Overall the presentation was good, I received feedback and information that was helpful of mental illness. We were not able to get on their level of understanding but at least we were able to get an idea. That was the main point of the presentations.  I woud recommend it in the future because there was some good information. 

The whole presentation was very helpful and informative. I really liked how open and honest all of the presenters were and also how they were willing to answer all the questions. They also helped me to understand to see the person not the illness. They also showed me how judgmental I can be as a person.

I think the information presented by all three speakers was very helpful. Knowing they are working with APD, and training them on how to work with people who have disabilities, is an excellent idea. I personally think the training should be more than 40 hours, since the minimum amount of firearm training is 60 hours. There should be some type of mandatory certification/recertification process for officers on a 6-12 month basis. Yes I would recommend the presentation for another class. 

The presentation provided by the three individuals about their mental illnesses, when and how they were first diagnosed, interactions they’ve had with police and how they are speaking out on creating more resources and training city police officers. I thought this was a very interesting topic! It made me more aware that this is a big issues in communities and that our police officers need to become more aware and receive training from professional’s that way we keep our officers safe as well as the mentally ill in our communities. I appreciate the time they took to come into our class and their vulnerability to speak out about their own personal experiences! I would recommend another lecture like this to other classes.

They each found there own ways of dealing with their mental illness whether it was medication, therapy, or both. They also have learn to accept their mental illness and find positive outcomes for each of them selves. Yes, I do recommend them to present in other classes. As long as it relates to topics in the class.

I thought the presentation given was really good and interesting. I also liked how they were open to answer any questions we asked and didn’t seem to mind when they were asked personal questions or when they shared personal stories about encounters with police officers.Yes, I would recommend this presentation to another class  however I think they needed more information of how it ties in with law enforcement. 

I felt the guest speakers we had the other day were very open and honest about themselves and their mental health. I feel that is a big deal especially to deal with personally. I think dealin with it is one thing but having so many people look at you differently when they find out is another. I don’t judge them for the way they are and I think they are amazing for just coming to our class to speak to us. I appreciate them helping us understand more about their issues and yes I would recommend them talking to other classes in law enforcement just to help them understand more about how it may help law enforcement officers help them.

The group panel was very intresting. Hearing each speaker talk about their diagnosis and incidents with police gave me a different perspective on how police handle these types of situations. 

I would recommend this for another class. Hearing real stories is useful instead of reading from the text. 

thought the guest speakers were great. I’m glad they were very open to answer any question. They were honest. I am glad they’re working with law enforcement. I think community involvement is helpful for individuals with mental illness. Yes I would recommend more guest speakers putting out the awareness for mental illness.

I thought the guest speakers were great. I’m glad they were very open to answer any question. They were honest. I am glad they’re working with law enforcement. I think community involvement is helpful for individuals with mental illness. Yes I would recommend more guest speakers putting out the awareness for mental illness.

I found it interesting to see how the police handled each of their own mental issues in their own individual situations. It was interesting to hear how they each struggled with their mental health issues. I found the presentation to be beneficial because I want to be involved in programs like the ones they are involved in. Overall, I think they shared good, personal information that provided an insight on police and the mentally ill. I would recommend this presentation to be done again.

What I found interesting was that they were working with APD. It is important that APD learns how to help people with illnesses because sometimes people with illnesses may not realize that what they are doing is wrong. It was also good how well they presented and how they did care what anybody thought about them.
Thank you,

 

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