Tag Archives: Bipolar Disorder

Henry’s Story

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At MHAM, we depend on individual donors to support our mission to enhance mental health, promote individual empowerment, and increase access to treatment and services for people living with mental illnesses. You can help us by contributing to MHAM through Give to the Max Day tomorrow, November 14. What’s more, your donation will be matched by our Board of Directors up to $10,000Simply visit our page at GiveMN.org, enter the donation amount you’d like to make, and follow the prompts to complete the transaction. You will help people like Henry.

The sun shone brightly and the temperature was perfect as Henry made his way to visit family and friends in a nearby community. The world looked good, and Henry drove toward his destination with anticipation boosted by an elevated level of mania. With his history of bipolar, Henry suspected he was feeling so good because was he was becoming manic. He knew that mania often resulted in problems in his life, but he also knew that it felt a whole lot better than those days when he was caught in the grip of depression.

Henry’s good day went downhill fast. Suddenly, he saw flashing red lights behind him. He had stopped quickly at a stop sign and then made a right turn without signaling. A police officer approached Henry’s car. The flashing lights and the uniform caused Henry’s stress level and mania to increase. He started to talk fast and loud. Instead of staying in the car, he tried to exit to explain to the officer. The officer thought Henry had been drinking.

Henry was taken to a detox center where he was tested for alcohol and other drugs. They found he had a very low level of alcohol–well below the legal limit for driving. However, once he was admitted to the detox center, he was stuck there for the next couple of days. Henry had neither his medication for bipolar disorder, nor medication for a separate physical condition. He did not need to be in detox. Henry should have gone to the hospital where he could get treatment for his bipolar disorder.

Henry eventually called MHAM because he was billed by the detox center for his time there. Henry is on Social Security Disability and cannot afford a large medical bill. Moreover, the detox center should be covered under Medicare. Henry and his advocate contacted a Medicare representative, who told them that a bill was not submitted to Medicare for the detox center. The advocate then helped Henry set up some conference calls with the county and the detox center in an attempt to figure out what happened. As it turns out, a police transport brought Henry to a detox center from a neighboring county. The detox center did not bill Medicare, but instead billed the county that transported Henry to the center. The transporting county then billed Henry. After talking to staff in both areas, it was clear that the detox center needed to send the bill to Medicare and not to the transporting county. Henry was pleased that the issue of the bill was resolved. However, a larger issue still stands. This problem would not have come up if Henry had been treated for his bipolar disorder at a hospital or clinic rather than held in a detox center when no detoxification was needed.

Connecting With Your Peers

Recovery is a journey and often involves several components. One essential component is support from others. Support from family and friends and can play an integral role. Connecting with others that are experiencing a similar health condition can be important too. Support groups can provide a positive environment to share these experiences. Support groups are not group therapy or a substitute for medical treatment, but a place where people can connect with others and to find mutual support.

The Minnesota Chapter of the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) – a program of MHAM since 2004 – has provided a platform for people to share experiences, personal feelings, information, and strategies for living successfully with mood disorders. DBSA support groups can:

> give you the opportunity to reach out to others and benefit from the experience of those who have been there.
> motivate you to follow your treatment plan.
> help you understand that a mood disorder does not define who you are.
> help you rediscover strengths and humor you may have thought you had lost.
> provide a forum for mutual acceptance, understanding, and self-discovery.

DBSA support groups are free and open to individuals who have depression or bipolar disorder, or for their loved ones. Meetings are facilitated by trained volunteers and meet at several locations within the Twin Cities area and parts of Greater Minnesota.

Check the current listing of DBSA meeting locations and times on the MHAM website. At some meetings, there are specific support groups for depression, bipolar disorder, and family issues. Please contact the facilitator directly for more information. If there is not a meeting location in your area or you are looking to attend a different type of support group, please check our listing of other sponsored support groups on our website. If you are interested in starting and facilitating a DBSA group in your area, please contact Tom Johnson at tomj@mentalhealthmn.org or 651-493-6634 / 800-862-1799.

For general information about DBSA support groups, please visit the DBSA website. Also, check out DBSA on the Not Alone radio program, airing on KKMS-AM (990), August 4 at 1pm and August 5 at 11:30 am. DBSA leadership will be talking about peer support through DBSA.

Online Screening at MHAM

For the past six years, the Mental Health Association of Minnesota has partnered with Screening for Mental Health, Inc. to provide anonymous online screening for mood and anxiety disorders. Just in the last year, nearly 1,000 assessments were completed. This free online assessment only takes a few minutes to complete and screens for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. At the end of each screening, a post-assessment is provided for the individual to review. Though not a substitute for a complete evaluation, it does help determine whether or not a consultation from a health professional or clinician would be helpful. For those who have limited or no health insurance, MHAM can help find a sliding fee clinic or other medical coverage options. To speak with an advocate, call 651-493-6634 or 800-862-1799 between 9am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. To take this mobile-friendly screening, visit the MHAM website.