Category: Community (Page 1 of 4)

Conspiracy theorists and mental health peers share a strong similarity.

Conspiracy theorists are upset that their views are dismissed and they thesmelves are marginalized. I say this is an excellent dynamic and I’ll tell you why, as a mental health peer advocate.

When I first started this peer advocacy thing – ten years ago – and began attending community behavioral health meetings in New Mexico, I was continuously “complimented” by others for “being so articulate… for a peer.” Yes, this is incredibly ignorant, biased, discriminatory, and just plain mean, and I could have gotten upset and demanded peers be treated with professional and basic human respect.

But I didn’t.

Why? Because as long as these minimizing well-wishers underestimate peers, we can get through all sorts of necessary change with little bureaucratic pushback. Being seen as intellectually deficient and less capable is a stigma worth capitalizing upon. So I did and I encourage fellow peer advocates to do the same.

The point is:

Now, my conspiracy theorist friends, a number of your ideas seem absolutely whack to me, but that’s a good thing. I take you seriously AND I think you’re nuts (at times). Folks like me are primed to accept your conclusions when we’re shown otherwise and logical proof. And to let you in on an observation, theorists friends. You’re more right that wrong, it just takes most of us longer to catch up.

So being tagged as a conspiracy theorist is a gift, not an insult. Let it ride. And, you can perpetuate their self-constructed myth even further with primely chosen words. For example:

Mental health community stakeholder: “Steve, you’re so articulate FOR A PEER.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what half of those words mean.”

Just know going in, invariably the gift is rescinded when they figure you out. This gift to peers hasn’t been available to me for years. In fact, I’m seen as “too functional,” and because of this, mental health colleagues either didn’t recognize or simply ignored that I was falling into a seriously dangerous suicidal episode by volunteering to help the Albuquerque Police Department. But that’s a different tale for another time.

For now, always keep this chestnut cliche firm to the chest, ready at mind, and primed at the fore: Self-care, self-care, self-care! And this is a great number of articles for another time.

And again, let them underestimate you. It’s a great way to get things done with little resistance.

Providers who aren’t peers are frustrated unmagical Muggles

Providers who aren’t mental health peers telling me my humor, irreverence, and jokes about mental health are wholly inappropriate and are insulting to other peers are confused Muggles attempting and failing to conjure forth the grumpy and constipated Ghost of Liberace to prepare a brimming Dixie cup of scrumptious hasenpfeffer to feed all the world’s starving vegans and thusly save Kanye West from a hostile takeover of his essence as the Universe’s Least Bipolar Man.

You see? Providers who aren’t mental health peers can’t even get basic magic right that EVERY peer can do while still pooping and peeing in their knickers, and thank the stars for Huggies and non-peer providers who happen to be full of the same sticky stuff. How can they be expected to know what’s funny amongst peers? Where is their experiential authority to judge me and my wit?

One of my strongest beliefs:

When you can laugh at the horrible things in life it takes back the power the horrible things hold over you.

This is the core principle for STS’s Laugh It Off education program.

DBSA Albuquerque has a new Tuesday evening peer support group!!!

We have a new Tuesday peer support group!!!
Beginning on Tuesday, January 29, DBSA Albuquerque offers a new weekly peer support group for our New Mexico communities.

It’s been a while since we’ve had our evening group centrally located in Albuquerque. By popular demand, we now have a new venue that is friendly, safe, and easily accessible from both I-25 and I-40.

Like our Monday afternoon and Friday evening peer support groups, DBSA Albuquerque offers our Tuesday group free to the community. There is no need to register ahead of time. Just show up and meet other folks who understand what you’re going through in a safe, welcome, and judgment-free space.

Every Tuesday
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
First Unitarian Church
RE Room 3
3701 Carlisle Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110

On the SE corner of the
Carlisle & Comanche intersection

Across Comanche from
KOAT 7 News

Dedicated Accessible Parking
First Floor Accessible Entrance.
Parking entrance on Comanche just west of Carlisle

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

A response to the Topeka Police Department’s “Premise Alert” program

This week an article was posted to the Topeka Capital-Journal website concerning a program the Topeka Police Department has requesting citizens with behavioral health issues to voluntarily enroll in “Premise Alert.” The goal of Premise Alert is so responding officers will know ahead of time that there is an individual in potential mental health crisis, allowing officers to “make more informed decisions” because they know they are encountering a peer.

The goal is honorable. Safe, positive encounters between peers and police is what all of us want. However, I’m not pleased with programs like Premise Alert because I feel officers should be trained to deal with unique crisis situations and NOT an assumed predetermined threat. Education. I’ll say it again and again.

Following is my response to the article.


Topeka police encourage those with behavioral health issues to enroll in Premise Alert program


I am president of DBSA Albuquerque (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance based in Chicago, Illinois) and sit on the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee, the DOJ mandated committee of community stakeholders who volunteer their time to help the Albuquerque Police Department develop better skills in engaging peers in crisis.

Our chapter collaborates closely with APD, including the 40 hour Crisis Intervention Training that was once a voluntary additional training and is now required of all APD officers. Peer involvement in creating those solutions that will protect both peers and police in crisis situations is key to successful, positive outcomes.

Many times, the topic of voluntary peer enrollment in a program such as this has been brought up at behavioral health meetings, and every time the concept meets with nearly instantaneous resistance to outright moral outage from peers. As one peer from our focus groups said last year, “Do they expect me to volunteer for a Tag & Release program?”

As an individual managing the symptoms of bipolar, anxiety, and PTSD, my reaction to this concept is also more than hesitant. The reason I share this is because often foreknowledge of a person’s behavioral health history can unduly affect a first responder’s attitude and readiness in a crisis situation. It may even have the exact opposite effect, something I can attest to personally. In one encounter with APD, officers focused entirely on asking if I was dangerous and not what help I needed.

Beyond the practical considerations of crisis response, there is a larger, more far-reaching concern among peers that has to do with the archiving and use of any database generated from an enrollment program. Let me share one example.

Say we have a peer who deals with alcohol misuse and schizophrenia (a condition the DSM V defines as co-occurring). Alcohol misuse exacerbates this individual’s schizoid symptoms to where police involvement is regularly required. However, when not misusing alcohol, this individual functions well and does not generate the type of crisis intervention needs.

Let’s say this individual voluntarily enrolls, under the auspices of “protecting all involved.” The idea doesn’t seem too horrible. Who doesn’t want to be safe?

Now, let’s consider this scenario:

A neighbor calls to report this individual’s yard is messy and the individual isn’t being cooperative in cleaning his yard. In fact, there was a heated argument over this to where the neighbor calls for the police.

The police arrive, already aware this individual has a prior co-occurring crisis history with police. There was an argument and police are dispatched “ready” for a situation where the individual.MIGHT be in crisis.

There are a few truths to consider:

1.) This individual is not symptomatic and in crisis.

2.) Neighbors get into yelling matches from time to time.

3.) They have been neighbors for 20 years.

4.) This individual experienced several crisis calls with police, and his neighbor witnessed this.

5.) The individual is 12 years sober.

6.) This happened to a friend of mine.

Granted, there was no enrollment program, and the foreknowledge provided police is from the neighbor of 20 years. But there was no crisis and responding officers treated my friend as if he was in the throes of co-occurring crisis. My friend is 12 years sober and only was a safety issue when drinking.

This illustrates striking concerns. How far does the enrollment record go back? How do you get yourself off the list once enrolled? What kind of information is collected and is this information guaranteed confidential? After all, the police are not medical providers and aren’t bound by mandates like HIPAA.

There are so many possible and real scenarios that all ultimately speak to one thing:

People with behavioral health issues are more than their symptoms and do enjoy significant recovery.

I’m not a sum total of my bipolar, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. I don’t say “I’m bipolar.” If I’m trotting out self-proclaimed identities I’d go with I’m a father, I’m a son, I’m a geologist, I’m a boyfriend, I’m a peer advocate, and I’m a really great left defender on my soccer team. Enrollment in a program like this places symptoms I manage with exercise, medication, therapy, peer support groups, and personal responsibility above who I truly am. It’s too easy to mistake having foreknowledge as being forewarned.

The real, sustainable solution is education. Officer preparation doesn’t come from a list, it comes from training officers with the skills necessary to help peers help themselves to make good decisions. A single peer’s crises are not the same thing every time. Every potential crisis situation involves a unique individual under unique circumstances. Education is the key to being well-prepared. Crisis intervention training allows for officer safety, peer safety, and deescalation through a spirit of collaboration rather than predestined community peacekeeping.

Reprinted with kind permission from Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.
Originally published April 5, 2017.

**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:

Email of interest to peers: Bills signed by governor — others await action – Ellen Pinnes

This message is from Ellen Pinnes and The Disability Coalition. Please do not reply to this email address. Ellen can be reached at

Governor Martinez has signed into law two bills of particular interest to the disability community:

SB 11, Limitations on “Step Therapy”, sponsored by Senators Gay Kernan and Liz Stefanics and Representatives Liz Thomson and Monica Youngblood. The bill addresses use of health insurance practices, known as “step therapy” or “fail first”, that require an individual to try a lower-cost prescription drug and show it doesn’t work before use of a more expensive drug is allowed. The bill focuses on prompt appeal processes that patients and their doctors can use to bypass step therapy requirements and get the medications that work best for them.

SB 19, Uniform Guardianship and Conservatorship Code, sponsored by Senators Jim White and Daniel Ivey-Soto and Representative Gail Chasey. The final version of SB 19 was changed significantly from the introduced version, and does not enact the new national model law as originally intended. The bill opens up new guardianship hearings to the public in most cases, limits the authority of guardians to modify or ignore wills and powers of attorney or to restrict visitation, and sets new standards for future petitions seeking guardianship. It’s not clear whether the bill allows family members to readily access annual guardianship reports. Unfortunately, the new law does not include some of the improvements initially proposed, such as strengthening the role of the attorney representing the allegedly incapacitated person or encouraging creative alternatives to guardianship.

Only a few bills involving disability issues are still awaiting the governor’s decision to sign or veto:

HB 2, General Appropriations Act, the state’s budget bill for fiscal year 2019 that contains appropriations for all state government agencies. The bill includes $2 million for the DD waiver waitlist, $300,000 for Special Olympics, $100,000 for housing services to individuals with mental illness who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and $100,000 to the Human Services Department for autism services.

HB 19, Criminal Justice Omnibus Bill, sponsored by Representative Nate Gentry and Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, which includes requirements for jails and prisons to screen inmates or detainees for substance abuse or mental health issues and facilitate their enrollment in Medicaid, and for Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) staff to assess the needs of these individuals and link them to services upon release from the correctional facility.

SB 2, Due Process for Medicaid Providers, sponsored by Senator Mary Kay Papen, which provides procedural protections for providers who have been accused of fraud.

SB 220, Crisis Triage Centers, sponsored by Senator Papen, which changes the definition of these centers to include facilities connected to hospitals and authorizes them to provide residential as well as non-residential services.

Governor Martinez has until March 7 to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature. If you wish to contact her about any bill that is still awaiting action, you can reach her:

By phone: Call her office at 505-476-2200 and leave a message.
By email: Go to her website, Click on “Contact and Constituent Services” at the top of the page, then on “Contact the governor”, and fill out the form that comes up on the screen.
By mail:

Gov. Susana Martinez
State Capitol – Room 400
490 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

The Disability Coalition is administered by Disability Rights New Mexico and is funded in part by
the New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Planning Council through Federal Program funding.
Additional funding is provided by The Arc of New Mexico,
the Independent Living Resource Center, New Vistas and DRNM.

APD seeks missing man suffering from schizophrenia

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a man who they say needs to be constantly supervised.

Police say Hasewood Dennison went with members of his group home on a supervised group outing to Legacy Church on Sunday.

While at Legacy, officers say the 54-year-old walked away from the group and did not return to the group home later that day.

Police say Dennison suffers from schizophrenia and has constant visual and auditory hallucinations. Officials are worried for his health because he needs to take prescribed medications.

Anyone with information on Mr. Dennison’s whereabouts is asked to call Detective Lorenzo Apodaca of APD’s Missing Person’s Unit at 505-659-7258.

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 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

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

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