Author: STS Admin (Page 9 of 15)

SUTS & DBSA Albuquerque are recruiting peers for Peer Focus Group!

Stand Up To Stigma and DBSA Albuquerque are recruiting peers for our Peer Focus Groups.

Currently, we are seeking peers who have life experience with law enforcement while in crisis. Your experience doesn’t need to be “positive” or “negative.” We are giving priority to peers who are willing to share their life experiences with other peers and are comfortable sharing their stories (anonymously if you’d prefer) with law enforcement.

Our peer focus group meets once a week for one to two hours.

Week One (Second Tuesday of the month) – MHRAC Meeting
Meet at the Rock at Noonday from 5 PM to 7 PM
Mental Health Response Advisory Committee monthly meeting.
Be prepared to take notes on any questions or comments you’ll have.
Dinner is provided by The Rock.

Week Two – Education Night
Meet with peer focus group to discuss any questions you have from the MHRAC meeting.
This includes policies discussed, acronyms, meeting participants, agency names and purposes, etc.

Week Three – Directed Discussion Night
Meet with peer focus group to discuss any issues, needs, and concerns from the MRHAC meeting.
Our discussion is preparation for creating the solutions we require to present to MHRAC.

Week Four – Brainstorming & Creating Solutions
Meet with peer focus group to create solutions based on our identified issues, needs, and concerns, as well as our previous week’s directed discussion.
We will be preparing our report to present to MHRAC on the next Second Tuesday of the month.

If interested:

Call or Text: 505-310-5070

(leave voicemail with your contact information)


We appreciate your time and consideration. Join us and make a real difference in our community!

Please note, SUTS CEO and DBSA Albuquerque president elect Steve Bringe resigned from the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee to pursue independent advisement of MHRAC and other committees related to law enforcement. Our peer focus group is a free community service provided by Stand Up To Stigma, LLC, and is not affiliated with MHRAC, DOJ, and APD. We are an independent peer community group.

Bias, Prejudice, and Stigma

Stigma. Where does a stigma find its source, the headwaters of a deluge of misinformation and misconception. In point, how do we as a community develop stigmas?

A stigma is engineered as such:

  • An opinion without facts is a bias.
  • A bias affects decisions and this is prejudice.
  • Enough people believe this bias and prejudice and now it’s a stigma.

There is an inherent harm with stigma beyond just “hurt feelings.” For example, if a lover is imbued with bias, prejudice, and stigma, “outing” oneself can destroy that relationship . . . although I hold that if a lover isn’t accepting of a behavioral health condition, then they really don’t deserve you anyway.

Further, a stigma canb adversely affect an individual’s employability. Too many times I’ve heard at DBSA Albuquerque support groups, peer focus groups Stand Up To Stigma holds, and other collaborating peer groups of a peer losing their job for being symptomatic, such as being too tired and isolated to go to work (much less take a shower) or too agitated for fellow employee comfort (I was fired many times for this). I’d hope employers would step up and address this; it’s still a work in progress.

And how about family? In our collaboration training law enforcement, so often officers tell us when families call 911 for a peer in crisis, the attitude is “We’ve had enough. He/She is your responsibility now.” This brings up the reality that often law enforcement officers are a peer’s only advocate when in crisis, and this is deserving of its own article.

Another stigma is one held by law enforcement, that peers are always in crisis because that’s when they see us. Police only see us at our worst, not when we are living productive, happy lives. After three years of APD training, I can say the most satisfying product of our sharing our stories is hearing officers share, “You’ve put a human face on peers in crisis. I now know peers aren’t always ‘crazy’. Peers can be reasoned with.”


What is the solution? Education, heading it off at the pass, and facilitating understanding.

Here’s the contribution of Stand Up To Stigma in breaking down stigmas:

  • Education through peers sharing their personal life experiences.
  • Understanding of the peer experience, putting a “human face” on peers.
  • Changing people’s minds and attitudes by peers sharing facts rather than bias, prejudice, and stigma.

Stand Up To Stigma has an ever-growing team of peers ready to share their stories. These are brave individuals who are willing to make themselves vulnerable, open and honest, knowing that their bravery and fortitude will make the changes every person who faces stigmatization needs to live a happy, productive, and successful life. We welcome all opportunities for Stand Up To Stigma peers to share of themselves for the betterment of our communities.

Best of mental health to you,
Steve Bringe
CEO, Stand Up To Stigma, LLC

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.

Welcome to the new Stand Up To Stigma webhome!!!

Howdy! Welcome to the brand spankin’ new Stand Up To Stigma website and blog!

We’ll be posting news, articles, guest spots, and just about anything related to standing up to stigma as the weeks and months progress. It’s our hope that we’ll be building an inspirational and informative archive of words and wisdom that will further our goal of understanding and acceptance through education and peers sharing of themselves.

Remember: Stigma Is Temporary.

Your Stand Up To Stigma Team
Steve Bringe, Sarah Salway, and Ryan Salway

Opinion: Why would our chapter decline funding?

In my time on the DBSA Albuquerque board, twice has our chapter declined large funding opportunities.  It might seem counterintuitive for a self-funded volunteer organization to turn down any donation, much less sums of $35,000 and $50,000. These were in no way easy decisions for our board, and both instances and board decisions are predicated on a single inescapable principle:

DBSA Albuquerque is first and foremost a peer support group, and anything that potentially threatens the safety, confidentiality, and fidelity of the group must be discouraged.

This can mean any number of things. In the past, we’ve dismissed disruptive peer members who were so obnoxious and bullying they were driving off other peer members. This is a very clear and easily-understood concept and rationale.

But what about funding? How does money threaten the safety, confidentiality, and fidelity of peer support groups? The answer might be surprising, although it is equally clear and easily-understood.

It depends on where the money is coming from.

Let’s talk of the $35,000 our chapter declined and why. First off, the funding was being obtained from a “grant writer”, and the grant writer was taking a percentage of the amount collected. This is horribly unethical. Grant writers traditionally and ethically write their fee into the grant.

Secondly, we were not allowed to meet this grant writer, nor were we given information on what grant or grants were applied to in the name of our chapter. So, the source of the money was a mystery.

After some careful, discrete inquiries, it turned out this money was being spearheaded by a state politician who supported and helped draft legislation unpopular with peers, namely Assisted Outpatient Treatment, AOT, aka “Kendra’s Law.” Many peers hear “AOT” and reflexively say “Forced Treatment.”

Through board discussion, we agreed that accepting these funds was tantamount to stating DBSA Albuquerque supports AOT legislation, and by extension the peers attending DBSA Albuquerque support groups. As a board, we have no right to speak on behalf of peer attendees to our support group.

The DBSA Albuquerque board felt accepting this funding was the same as buying peer endorsement of legislation either unpopular with or harmful to peers.

A similar logic was applied to the $50,000 offered our chapter. While the intent is pure and the cause noble, this funding was made available through a court settlement in relation to why the Department of Justice is auditing and monitoring Albuquerque Police Department use of force treatment of peers in crisis. Again, accepting this money can be seen as peer endorsement, and more importantly . . .

Through negligence or circumstance, APD will be held over the coals for a use of force violation in relation to a peer in crisis, and this has great potential to raise the visibility of our chapter and by extension peer support groups in media and meetings.

In addition, numerous peers at our groups have had poor relations and experiences with law enforcement, and if these peers feel our chapter is in direct collaboration with law enforcement, they will not come to our support groups any longer. I can say this with 100% authority. A group of peers left DBSA Albuquerque and formed their own peer support group because of my personal involvement with APD training.

Peers come first. And the purpose of DBSA Albuquerque is to hold peer support groups where peers feel safe talking openly in an environment free of public scrutiny and attention.

I’m uncertain if prior DBSA Albuquerque administrations gave this magnitude of consideration to accepting donations and funding. I feel it is a necessary debate and is a respectful consideration of the peers who attend our support groups.

If peers don’t feel safe and welcome, they won’t attend. And that defeats the purpose of DBSA Albuquerque peer support groups.

Steve Bringe, Vice preisdent, DBSA Albuquerque

Friday March 30 is International Bipolar Day! Come Laugh About It!

This Friday, join us at 6:30 PM at the Taylor Ranch/Don Newton Community Center before our support group for a special presentation of the Stand Up To Stigma education event “Laugh It Off.”

“Laugh It Off” is weekly presented at Turquoise Lodge Hospital, as well as individual events over the last year. Oddly, we’ve never actually presented to DBSA Albuquerque. So, what better day that International Bipolar Day?

DBSA Albuquerque president Sarah Salway and DBSA Albuquerque vice president Steve Bringe will be our comics for the night. The idea for “Laugh It Off” is to laugh about the horrible things that have happened in our lives as a result of our mental health symptoms, and if you can laugh at the horrible things, it takes away some of the power these horrible things have over us.

“Laugh It Off” begins at 6:30 PM and ends at 6:50 PM.

Our regular support groups at 7 PM, as usual.

I’ve been led to believe DBSA Albuquerque treasurer will have cake for us. Yum! Cake!


**Media Advisory** – New Mexico Crisis and Access Line Celebrates Five Years Providing Crisis and Pre-Crisis Services


Date March 20, 2018

Contact: Wendy Linebrink-Allison 505-263-9140



Editor Note: By the numbers are attached for side-bar and on-site interviews with counselors can be arranged.


Albuquerque, N.M. –The New Mexico Crisis and Access Line (NMCAL), operated by ProtoCall Services, Inc. and funded by the New Mexico Human Services Department, Behavioral Health Services Division (HSD-BHSD), is celebrating five years of aiding New Mexicans in finding the help, services, and support they need for mental health crises such as thoughts of suicide, anxiety, depression and substance use.

New Mexico’s suicide rate is fifty-nine percent higher than the U.S. national average and roughly 160,000 New Mexicans have substance use disorders. NMCAL is staffed by behavioral health professional counselors who are available to respond to both crisis and non-crisis mental health and substance use concerns 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, through a statewide and toll free call line that is here to hear people in the moment they need someone to talk to. Since it began operating, the hotline has received nearly 115,000 crisis calls through NMCAL, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and Core Service Agencies, as well as more than 25,000 Peer-to-Peer Warmline calls, resulting in 185,373 hours spent talking to callers from all counties throughout the state.

Since NMCAL launched, underserved populations in all counties are being reached, including sixty two percent of callers who are not enrolled in behavioral health services and fifty-three percent of callers who have Medicaid or no insurance. To support the recovery process, callers are referred and encouraged to participate and engage in community support services beyond the call.

Partnerships are built through collaborative efforts that NMCAL and HSD-BHSD coordinate with state, county, city, and local social service agencies, community associations and coalitions, schools, healthcare facilities and emergency rooms, public safety and correctional facilities, as well as fire, EMT and law enforcement. A joint effort with Bernalillo County allows 911 callers in unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County to transfer to the crisis line to speak with a counselor. This program provides callers with the appropriate response of services for their mental health needs.

“Through crisis and warm telephone lines, and after-hours coverage for agencies serving those with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders, NMCAL provides 24-hour wrap-around crisis and pre-crisis support to all New Mexicans and is an integral part of New Mexico’s behavioral health services system of care,” David Gonzales of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) New Mexico.

The New Mexico Crisis and Access Line and Peer to Peer Warmline are available to talk about any mental health and substance use concern a person may be experiencing themselves, or for someone else they know who may or may not want to get help. The top three reasons given for calling are anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. Ninety-six percent of callers report having a reduced level of distress after calling.

“New Mexico’s large rural and frontier areas often lack proximity to behavioral health providers, leaving many feeling isolated and disconnected,”  Dr. Wayne Lindstrom of HSD-BHSD. “By fulfilling New Mexico’s 2011 legislative House Joint Memorial 17, we are providing a centralized, statewide call center with a single access point that is connected and integrated with local authorities and behavioral health agencies so that callers won’t go un-helped.”

In 2014 NMCAL joined the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network to provide local resources with innovative best practices and quality care to New Mexicans reaching out for support. That same year NMCAL began answering the intercom calls on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge to assist those contemplating suicide, and started offering Mental Health First Aid Trainings to teach people how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders within the community.

The Peer-to-Peer Warmline launched in 2015 with certified peer support specialists. Peer support specialists have recovered from their own behavioral health or substance use issues and provide confidential non-crisis support for over 1,000 callers per month. Starting in January of this year the Warmline expanded to include texting services to reach even more New Mexicans. Most recently, NMCAL has joined with HSD-BHSD, and providers across the State, expanding its focus to better support addressing the Opioid crisis ravaging our communities. “By providing specialized training to all of our Crisis Line Counselors and Warm Line Peer Support staff, NMCAL intends to play an increasingly valuable role in educating and connecting individuals and families to the right care at the right time” Wendy Linebrink-Allison, NMCAL Program Manager.  NMCAL has also partnered with the Dose of Reality, NM’s social media opioid campaign, to promote the crisis line’s availability.

For more information, If you or someone you know needs help, please call the Crisis and Access Line at 1-855-NMCRISIS (1-855-662-7474), or call or text the Peer to Peer Warmline at 1-855-4NM-7100 (1-855-466-7100).




Free – Anonymous – Confidential

Wendy Linebrink-Allison, CPSW, MSW/MBA Candidate

Program Manager, New Mexico Crisis and Access Line & Peer to Peer Warmline
p: 505-263-9140
a: 7850 Jefferson St NE, #100; Albuquerque, NM 87109

We are here to hear you

— Call the Crisis Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
1-855-NMCRISIS (1-855-662-7474)

— Call the Peer to Peer Warmline from 3:30p – 11:30p MT everyday
1-855-4NM-7100 (1-855-466-7100)

—  Text the Peer to Peer Warmline from 6:00p – 11:00p MT everyday
1-855-4NM-7100 (1-855-466-7100)

— TTYL Access available on both the crisis line & the warm line by calling

View our Public Awareness Campaign Online:

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.

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

Reprinted courtesy of Steve Bringe at Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.

Cathal Smyth of Madness…. you got it miserably, irresponsibly so very very wrong.

Knowing me as you do, one of my favorite bands in the entire history of ever is Madness. The Nutty Boys, the Camden Cowboys, the Magnificent 7 (and for reasons forthwith, fortunately minus one Cathal Smyth, aka Chas Smash, aka Carl Smyth), the patchwork of my youth into the not so youthful is tacked together with a square of Madness here and a worn piece of fabric there.

Back in 2012, Madness released a brand new album entitled “Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da”, with the namesake lyric being baffling in its inclusion and inception, really. However……. never has Madness penned lyrics that reek of such blatant ignorance.


Word and Music by Cathal Smyth

Misery loves company
That’s what the wise man said
Don’t come to me for sympathy
If you can’t raise your head
Stand up and see
What your life could be
If you wore a smile instead
If you keep misery as your company
Then you might as well be dead

Why don’t you go suck on a silver spoon
Buy a spaceship and fly over the moon
See the colours in the flowers and the tree’s
Take a lesson from the birds and the bee’s
Why don’t you go skipping out in the park
Give yourself a chance to make a new start
Try and focus on your health and your heart
Accept the present and let go of the past

Misery loves company
That’s what the wise man said
The remedy to be happy
Well it’s all inside your head
Shift infinitessimally your perception and see
Your life could be better led
Don’t keep misery as your company
Or you might as well be dead

Why don’t you go suck on a silver spoon
Buy a spaceship and fly over the moon
See the colours in the flowers and the tree’s
Take a lesson from the birds and the bee’s
Why don’t you go skipping out in the park
Give yourself a chance to make a new start
Try and focus on your health and your heart
Accept the present and let go of the past
Don’t come to me for sympathy
If you can’t raise your head
Stand up and see what your life could be
If you wore a smile instead
If you keep misery for company then you
Might as well be dead

I could go through a cornucopia of harmfully specific lyrics word for word. Instead, I am going to laser in on just four of the roughest with brutal peer analysis:

  1. Don’t come to me for sympathy / If you can’t raise your head
  2. Stand up and see / What your life could be / If you wore a smile instead
  3. The remedy to be happy / Well it’s all inside your head
  4. If you keep misery for company / Then you might as well be dead

Now, in better spirits, I would toss this off (ha!) as a mere purged rainbow, but because it is so disgustingly irresponsible, I’m calling this spitting venom.

Why? According to Mr. Smyth, it is a personal choice to suffer from depression, not a malfunctioning brain defined by specific mental health diagnoses. Just raise your head, smile, and accept that the reason you’re not happy is because you willingly stay depressed unaware of an on/off switch in your head. Please refer to my prior article that elegantly explains the true peer experience of debilitating, unavoidable depressive symptoms.

Because, yes, I haven’t tried willing my bipolar symptoms away by just smiling and deciding to be happy, I’ve not thought of this in the past three d3cades living with bipolar depression. I feel foolish and dull minded. Thank you, Chas, the wise man who said. I’ve been dealing with this off and on (the nature of cyclic bipolar) for coming on 30 years. Thank the stars above that you came along to steer the clinically depressed to paradise on earth. Bounce your lyrics off your contemporary Adam Ant (he’s true pals with your mutual friend Boz Boorer, if you need an introduction), see if he’s pleased with your pseudo-erudite take on a medical disease.

If it was as easy as saying “I’m not going to be depressed” there would be no depressed humans walking the globe.

What is hands-down the zenithic MOST IRRESPONSIBLE LYRIC IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF EVER in the realm of behavioral health is his “if/then” statement saying if you CHOOSE to have a mental illness and not CHOOSE to cheer up, then suicide is a valid option, to rid the world of peers who are so intellectually deficient they can’t pull themselves out of a crippling mental health crisis. Lyrical eugenics, courtesy of Mr. Cathal Smyth (formerly of Madness). Rid the world of mental illness through the grandest of uneducated simplicities.

Let me be very clear of my interpretation of Chas’ lyrics:

If you’re too stupid to realize that depression is a personal choice, then suicide is a dictated result..

And let me be very clear of my condemnation of Mr. Cathal Smyth:

Chas, we’ve chatted on several occasions, traded emails, and I’ve stated that your song “Victoria Gardens” is a gem of a song both lyrically and musically. But in this instance, bad boy, Chas. Very bad bad boy, and very very irresponsible.

Back in 1981, guitarist Christopher J. Foreman penned a tune called “Madness (Is All in the Mind)”, a fun ditty that pokes a backwards “V” for “vuck you” to those judgmental of differing behavior. Chris and I have spoken at length about this tune, in part because it is his favorite song from Madness that he authored, and in part because I revealed to him many years ago that I have bipolar disorder (to help him understand why it is that I disappear from the world for a year or two at a time… isolating, you see). Let’s see the comparative lyrics:


Words and Music by Christopher J. Foreman

I’ve never had much cause for worry
And I’ve not got a lot to say
You’ll never find me in a hurry
Because I live my life day by day
People say that I’m crazy
But I’m not that way inclined
I know what I know and I’ll happily show
That madness is all in the mind
Twenty-four hours is all that I care for
I believe that’s the only way
Twenty-four hours is all that is needed
Because I live my life day by day
People say that I’m crazy
But I’m not that way inclined
I know what I know and I’ll happily show
That madness is all in the mind
I’m happy the way that I do things
Continually feeling okay
I’ve no worries on what tomorrow brings
Because I live my life day by day
People say that I’m crazy
But I’m not that way inclined
I know what I know and I’ll happily show
That madness is all in the mind
Well some men seek answers in bottles
And others in degenerate ways
But I don’t care much for the question
Madness is all in the mind
Madness is all in the mind
Madness is all in the mind
Madness is all in the mind

Cheerful and encouraging lyrics, yes? Yes. Just be yourself. to hell with the critique and concern of others. I’ve always liked this message as a teen and moreso after bipolar symptoms manifested around 1986.

So why am I only commenting on this miserable song now, some four years gone? The reason is tied entirely to a lengthy depressive episode I’ve been contending with off and on (there are manic episodes as well) the last four years.

I didn’t want to listen to a new Madness album and not enjoy it.

That would be a sure sign of how cruddy I was really doing.

That would suck the mighty suck if my bipolar symptoms kept me from enjoying a Madness album. It would most likely trigger worse symptoms (I’ll talk about “Ted” another time), and I couldn’t risk it.

So, heading out to SoCal for Thanksgiving with my Dad, in the Toyota with Razzie, Slater, Bailey and Bennett, cruising through Death Valley, I finally felt the joy necessary to rip the plastic wrap off the CD and delve into a long-delayed jaunt with “Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da”. I loved it, I felt joy, I shared my joy with my friends (including Nicky who wrote two songs on the album – Kitchen Floor and Leon – via Skype), and I’m glad I waited. Overjoyed I delayed. There is joy associated with the album. It only took four years to get there, a truly short span of time for someone who lives with the challenges and triumphs of bipolar disorder.

I feel joy… excluding the mirthful anger I feel with the song “Misery.”

Calling Dr. Smyth. Dr. Smyth, learned soul of everything and all psychological, please proceed to the “Ignorance Is Temporary” wing of the hospital. I’ll be waiting there with any number of peers who live with clinical depression by design, not by choice. We are prepared to educate. It’s not an inconvenience. Truly.

And please, Chas, pen a song where you deride people whose arms sponraneously fell off to just pick up their deparated arms, dust off their sleeves, and get on with their day.

Reprinted courtesy of Steve Bringe at Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.

Rest freely, Dr. Hawking

Not being overtly irreverent . . . Is Stephen Hawking dependent on a motorized chair for locomotion and computerized voice for speech whilst moving to the Great Hereafter? It would suck if you take your maladies with you. I look forward to not having bipolar in the Great Hereafter, as well as reconnecting with my hamster Mex Tex.

Reprinted courtesy of Steve Bringe at Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.

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STAND UP TO STIGMA: Mental Health Support Groups & Community Education