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The Highs and Lows of Bipolar Disorders (Infographic)

Created by TopCounselingSchools.org

Bipolar Disorder Inforgraphic




Healing Words by Jon Gottlieb, guest blog post

Healing Words

Sometimes an injury caused by an unkind remark will hurt even more if you continue to use the harsh words. Put a soulful Band-Aid on it instead. Make it up from gentle and caring words. The results will be more positive and long lasting.

“I think you’re strange” can be helpful if you change it to “I’d like to get to know you.”

“What’s wrong with you?” can be less stigmatizing if you look your peer in the eye and say “I feel your pain and would like to help.”

“You’re on your own” hurts more than “I am on your side.”

“I am going through the same things you are” means more than “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“We’ll try to get you help” can ease the burden unlike “don’t bother me.”

“If I can’t assist you, we’ll find somebody who can” can help a person with worse experiences than yours feel better than if you say “you have to deal with the problem on your own.”

“I am a peer and you are a person who is also a peer” should be an insight strong enough to ensure words that can bring healing instead of those that bring harm, especially if you are peers who share a history of mental illness.

Dare yourself to take somebody by both a literal and poetic hand to reach for a greater comfort zone. You’ll be helping each other embrace the experience of hope and a healthier lifestyle.
October 2015

New Mental Health Television PSAs: NAMI Launches “Hope Starts with You” Campaign

SAN FRANCISCO, July 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has launched “Hope Starts with You,” a new campaign of public service announcements (PSAs) for television.

Unveiled at NAMI’s 36th annual convention, July 6-9, the two PSAs featured in the campaign emphasize the difference that individuals can make in helping the 1 in 5 Americans who live with mental illness in any given year.

The first PSA, titled “A Brighter Day”, available in 60, 30 and 15-secondd spots, shows a man sitting sadly, alone on a park bench. One person, then another and then a crowd of people approaches him, extending their hands—causing him to rise.

“When depression meets hope, everything can change,” says the voiceover. “Give someone who struggles the help they desperately need.”

The second spot, titled “Peace and Quiet,” available in 60 and 30-second spots, shows a young woman crying and hearing voices during an episode of schizophrenia. Her mother enters the room, followed by many other people, moving to comfort her, as the voiceover delivers a similar tag-line.

“Every time a person gives time, energy or support or shares a personal story about a mental condition, there is a ripple effect that we like to call The NAMI Effect,” said NAMI Communications Director Katrina Gay.

“Everyone can make a difference in the lives of others.”

“Hope starts with everyone,” she declared.

“Be part of the NAMI Effect.”

The Dallas advertising agency 31,000 Feet donated services for creating and producing the PSAs, which were filmed in March 2015. About 100 NAMI volunteers participated in the making of “A Brighter Day,” which was filmed on a rainy, but still exuberant day. NAMI has posted a six minute “behind the scenes”  video of the making of “A Brighter Day” on its PSA website page.

About NAMI

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.



Reason to Hope, Reason to Walk – Eliza WIlliamson

Eliza Williamson

If you knew every detail of Eliza T. Williamson’s long battle with mental illness, you might think it’s a miracle that she’s alive, much less stable and happy. But you’d be wrong. Miracles are attributed to divine or supernatural intervention. Eliza’s story of hope and survival is a triumph of the human spirit, the result of her own hard work and resilience along with the support of her family, her therapist and her volunteer work with NAMI Mass.

Eliza’s first brush with mental illness came in her junior year of high school. As college graduation approached, she was increasingly anxious and out of control. She was losing chunks of time and began to self-harm. At her most ill, she engaged in extremely irrational and dangerous behaviors. But somehow, she maintained a smokescreen of normality. Fear of stigma forced her to keep her illness a secret.

“Stigma was a huge barrier to accepting I had mental illness and to seeking treatment. I remember my mom set up a session for me with the high school counselor, but I didn’t want to walk through that office door. It wasn’t worth risking what people would think,” Eliza admits. “The gray cloud of stigma causes conceptual and concrete obstacles to recovery. Even after I accepted my illness, I had feelings of shame and embarrassment. So, when I would see my warning signs, it made it difficult to be honest and ask for help even though I knew, logically, that was the only way to make things better.”

Keeping up her façade became all-encompassing and exhausting. The pressure led Eliza to attempt suicide in 2001. When the paramedics shocked her back to life, she was angry—angry to be alive. But, terrified of facing one more day of pretending, she embarked on a path to get better.

It’s been a long road but worthwhile road to recovery. Eliza credits her family for understanding she was sick and trying to get her in treatment. She says two other factors are crucial to her recovery. First, she has a longstanding relationship with a therapist in whom she has total trust. More than a decade ago, that therapist said something to Eliza that continues to resonate.

“When I was in a particularly bad place about 10 years ago, I told my therapist I had no hope that things would get better. She said, ‘Well, Lize, you can borrow some of mine, because I have enough hope for both of us.’ To this day, the idea of borrowing hope clicks for me and it really helps.”

The other crucial piece for Eliza has been DBT, or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She describes it as a “very nuts and bolts” type of therapy. “It’s about focusing on what I can do in this moment to make things more bearable versus past hurts and wrongs or ‘what ifs.’ It’s empowered me to move through and beyond the limitations of my illness.”

Eliza has faced her demons and has come out the other side. “I haven’t been hospitalized in seven years, and it’s been eight years since I’ve hurt myself. I fell in love and got married. We bought a house and have two dogs. I’ve found joy in writing and had my first story published in 2010. I have this great life now that I never thought was possible.”

Last June, Eliza began presenting her story as part of NAMI’s In Our Own Voice program. She didn’t realize how powerful the experience would be. “NAMI filled a void by giving me opportunities to make my life feel really meaningful. I’m getting to pay it forward, all the while coming to realize that my suffering isn’t irrelevant or in vain. I’ve been given a tremendous gift by getting to share my journey, working to end stigma and being able to offer others hope. I feel incredibly grateful.”

Register to Walk on May 10th!

Donate to NAMIWalk Massachusetts!

Volunteer for the Walk on May 10th!

“You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know”

nami family to family education program logo

I cannot thank NAMI Plymouth enough for offering the NAMI Family-to-Family education program. My husband and I took the class and it has had a positive impact on our family.

During the first phone call with my facilitator, Brenda Ryder, I expressed concern that this may not be the class for me. She reassured me with a complete explanation of the program and closed with the words “you don’t know what you don’t know”. I was about to find out how right she was. Each week I learned new things that gave me strength to complete the program. My world that seemed so upside down began to take a turn. I realize now that I had a lot to learn.


I did not know I would turn to complete strangers for knowledge and answers
and find support and compassion.
I did not know that these strangers have walked in my shoes
and are here for the same reason.
I did not know that a bond and trust could be formed so quickly
around a topic so personal and stigmatized.
I did not know I would find a group of people who would not judge me
for my ignorance or actions
but offer me a warm embrace and a box of tissues.

I know now… I was right where I belonged.

I have learned to empathize instead of criticize.
I have learned patience in place of pressure.
I have learned to accept.

Most importantly I have been given HOPE
and that will carry me through,
what, I do not know…

~Cheryl Wyndham

Let Me Tell You What It’s Like To Have Schizophrenia – Guest blog post

Reprinted with permission of Ladies Home Journal. This article first appeared in the April, 2013 issue, pages 101-102 and 104 in the Here’s To Your Health section.

Let me Tell You, What it's Like to Have Schizophrenia - first page

Let me Tell You, What it's Like to Have Schizophrenia second page


Let me Tell You, What it's Like to Have Schizophrenia third page

Entry on mental illness is added to Associated Press Stylebook

Associated Press logo

Entry on mental illness is added to AP Stylebook

March 7, 2013

The Associated Press today added an entry on mental illness to the AP Stylebook.

“It is the right time to address how journalists handle questions of mental illness in coverage,” said AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll. “This isn’t only a question of which words one uses to describe a person’s illness. There are important journalistic questions, too.

“When is such information relevant to a story? Who is an authoritative source for a person’s illness, diagnosis and treatment? These are very delicate issues and this Stylebook entry is intended to help journalists work through them thoughtfully, accurately and fairly.”

The entry, which was immediately added to the AP Stylebook Online and will appear in the new print edition and Stylebook Mobile, published in the spring, reads as follows:

mental illness Do not describe an individual as mentally ill unless it is clearly pertinent to a story and the diagnosis is properly sourced. 

When used, identify the source for the diagnosis. Seek firsthand knowledge; ask how the source knows. Don’t rely on hearsay or speculate on a diagnosis. Specify the time frame for the diagnosis and ask about treatment. A person’s condition can change over time, so a diagnosis of mental illness might not apply anymore. Avoid anonymous sources. On-the-record sources can be family members, mental health professionals, medical authorities, law enforcement officials and court records. Be sure they have accurate information to make the diagnosis. Provide examples of symptoms.

Mental illness is a general condition. Specific disorders are types of mental illness and should be used whenever possible: He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to court documents. She was diagnosed with anorexia, according to her parents. He was treated for depression.

Some common mental disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (mental illnesses or disorders are lowercase, except when known by the name of a person, such as Asperger’s syndrome):

– Autism spectrum disorders. These include Asperger’s syndrome, a    mild form of autism. Many experts consider autism a developmental  disorder, not a mental illness.
– Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)
– Depression
– Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
– Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
– Schizophrenia

Here is website of the National Institute of Mental Health that can be used as a reference.

Do not use derogatory terms, such as insane, crazy/crazed, nuts or deranged, unless they are part of a quotation that is essential to the story.

Do not assume that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime, and verify statements to that effect. A past history of mental illness is not necessarily a reliable indicator. Studies have shown that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and experts say most people who are violent do not suffer from mental illness.

Avoid unsubstantiated statements by witnesses or first responders attributing violence to mental illness. A first responder often is quoted as saying, without direct knowledge, that a crime was committed by a person with a “history of mental illness.” Such comments should always be attributed to someone who has knowledge of the person’s history and can authoritatively speak to its relevance to the incident.

Avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with, suffers from or victim of. Rather, he has obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Double-check specific symptoms and diagnoses. Avoid interpreting behavior common to many people as symptoms of mental illness. Sadness, anger, exuberance and the occasional desire to be alone are normal emotions experienced by people who have mental illness as well as those who don’t.

Wherever possible, rely on people with mental illness to talk about their own diagnoses.

Avoid using mental health terms to describe non-health issues. Don’t say that an awards show, for example, was schizophrenic.

Use the term mental or psychiatric hospital, not asylum.

See Asperger’s syndrome; disabled, handicapped; phobia; post-traumatic stress disorder.

About AP
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP. On the Web: www.ap.org.

Paul Colford
Director of Media Relations

Erin Madigan White
Media Relations Manager

Transitional Employment: My Story

Michael Stier

Transition Employment: My Story

By Mike Stier

I write this because I have had an extremely positive TE experience. For those who do not know, a TE is a ‘Transitional Employment’ job.  It is designed to help people like me get back to work.  It is secured through a clubhouse to serve as a temporary job for an individual member to work for six to nine months. The clubhouse provides a great deal of support to build the up on their way to more independent and permanent employment. When the time at the job is done, another member takes the job and repeat.

The TE program was actually the main reason I joined Potter Place. And yet when I was approached to see if I’d want to do the library TE, I almost turned it down.  Not because I did not want to work.  I desperately wanted to find a work situation that was sustainable and I strongly believed that the TE program was the way to go. It was because I didn’t think I would be good enough for the job in question.

Up to that point I had a whole handful of work experiences that distressingly did not end well, even though I was trying my hardest.  Even though I had always done well in school and graduated from college. I was beat down. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I honestly doubted whether I would be able to keep and hold any paid job.

This TE made all the difference in the world.  To be aware that the people at this library were knowingly and willingly employing people with mental illness- that it was not something I had to hide- made such a huge difference. TE employers don’t just tolerate that fact of mental illness if and when it becomes apparent, like some of my previous employers. They truly embrace it.  And the way training was offered- by staff at the clubhouse (not employees at the job) was tremendously helpful. Being trained by someone who has my psychological state prime in his / her mind, understanding and accepting my fragility, and willing to be as patient in training me as was necessary for me to master the work at hand (TE trainings last as long as the worker feels necessary).

Six months later, I am feeling as confident about this job as I have ever been in any job. I really and truly enjoy it. I almost always feel significantly happier and with more peace of mind by the end of the work day than at the beginning. My co-workers appreciate me and like me and vice versa. I have more confidence in my prospects for future employment. I have strong references for whenever I might need them. And I have tremendous gratitude for the TE program which made this all possible.

I am a living testament to the importance of this program, to the fact that it works (for all parties involved), that it matters. That it helps people get their lives back together, get back to work in a gentle, supportive manner. Big shout out to the people at Potter Place who gave me the chance and believed in me and supported me the whole way.  Shout out to all of my colleagues at the library who always made me feel welcome and comfortable and appreciated. Finally, shout out to clubhouses everywhere, who make the TE program possible for people like me.

First published in the FEBRUARY, 2013 issue of INNERWORKS a newsletter of the Charles Webster Potter Place Club house. Reprinted with permission.

20 Commandments for Mental Health Workers – Guest Blog Post

20 Commandments for Mental Health Workers

By Nursewithglasses

  1. Thou shalt respect your client and not judge
  2. Thou shalt increase the well-being, opportunities and happiness of your client
  3. Thou shalt be in time for appointments and ‘phone calls. It will show your client that he matters
  4. Thou shalt have a well-chosen and well-timed sense of humour
  5. Thou shalt reconsider your ‘professional distance’ if it makes your client feel he stands alone; show that you are a person too
  6. Thou shalt not let your bad mood or personal issues influence your professional attitude
  7. Thou shalt have an open conversation if your client is suicidal and give good support and protection if necessary
  8. Thou shalt not hide behind a newspaper on the ward or make any other unapproachable impression otherwise
  9. Thou shalt not hide and chat in the nurses’ offices but be with your clients as much as possible to create a safe and friendly environment
  10. Thou shalt consider family and good friends of your clients as team players (unless it’s impossible) and support them well in the interests of your client
  11. Thou shalt inspire and support your colleagues to make mental healthcare as good and friendly as possible and ask and give feedback on a regular basis to become a ‘winning team’
  12. Thou shalt inform your clients well about side effects of medication, observe well and help to find solutions if needed
  13. Thou shalt not avoid the subject ‘sexual side effects of medication’
  14. Thou shalt help your client to get good dental and physical care and support them on doctor and dentist visits if needed
  15. Thou shalt help and support your client to exercise on a regular basis to increase their health
  16. Thou shalt support your client to overcome financial or housing problems and fight bureaucracy
  17. Thou shalt listen well to the client’s aspirations for their life and give support to achieve them
  18. Thou shalt stand up for the rights of your client
  19. Thou shalt fight the stigma of mental illness on every opportunity
  20. Thou shalt help your client to keep up hope

Reprinted with permission

Bio: NursewithGlasses is from the Nederlands and she is a Community Mental Health Nurse on a mission to improve the world of psychiatry with the 20 Commandments for Mental Health Workers. You can find her blog here: http://20commandments.blogspot.com/ and she tweets on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/nurse_w_glasses

Are you caring for a loved one and need support? – Guest Blog Post

By Heather Chagnon, Adult Family Care Manager, Greater Waltham Arc

A lot of Caregivers are unaware of what benefits are out there to assist them. Often times they don’t know where to look or where to start. One program that is available to Caregivers that can provide financial benefits to them is the Adult Family Care Program.

This is a benefit funded by MassHealth and provides a monthly tax-free stipend to Caregivers who are caring for an individual with a disability and/or the elderly. This program promotes individualized care and allows the Member to be cared for by the person of his/her choice. The Caregivers will receive monthly support from the AFC Team, which includes a Care Manager and a Registered Nurse. The paid Caregiver will receive Alternative Placement days, Medical and Non-Medical leave days. This allows the Caregiver to get the much needed break that he or she may need and they will not be forfeiting their monthly stipend. The stipend is dependent on the amount of daily care the Member requires, this information will be determined by the AFC Team after meeting with the Member and Caregiver.

There are many clients with a wide array of conditions that qualify them for the program. A couple of examples of who can benefit from the program include:

  1. A  24 year old female who suffers from depression, anxiety, OCD, ADD and obesity, she is currently living with her friend, who will be her paid Caregiver. She requires hands on assistance with bathing, dressing and toileting. This will qualify her as a level 2 and her Caregiver is eligible to receive $18,000 per year for the care he provides.
  2. A 44 year old female who has been diagnosed with depression and OCD is currently living with her mother (who is not her legal Guardian) and the mother is the paid Caregiver. Even though this Member does not require hands on assistance with any Activities of Daily Living, she does require prompting, supervision and cueing with bathing and dressing. This particular Member will not initiate showering on her own and requires her Caregiver to prompt her to shower daily. The Member also does not wear appropriate clothes for the season therefore her Caregiver has to constantly remind her to dress for the weather. This Member is eligible to be a Level 1 and the Caregiver receives $9,000 per year.

The qualifications of the program include:

To be the Member, you must:

  • Must be 16 or older
  • The program must be approved by the Primary Care Physician
  • The Member and Caregiver must live together
  • The Member must be on MassHealth Standard

To be a paid Caregiver, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be able to provide daily care
  • NOT be legally responsible for the Member (i.e. spouse, parent of a minor or legal Guardian)
  • Be willing to complete 8 hours of training annually (this will be provided by the AFC Team)

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact:

Heather Chagnon

Adult Family Care Manager, Greater Waltham Arc

781-899-1344 x 4145 or hchagnon@gwarc.org