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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bi Polar Bear Receives Proclamation from Cliffside Park Elected Officials

(L) City Councilwoman Donna Spoto and to my (R) Acting Mayor Thomas Calabrese

Awarded October 7, 2014

WHEREAS, a successful community is reliant upon the volunteerism of it's citizens; and

WHEREAS, charitable organizations are successfully due to the volunteers dedicated to it's cause; and

WHEREAS, there are many diseases that have negative stigmas associated with them; and

WHEREAS, in an effort to assist others it takes a great deal of courage to set up and speak out; and

WHEREAS, "Stephen A. Puibello," 550 Gorge Road, has dedicated his life to supporting numerous causes and community activism; and

WHEREAS, "Stephen A. Puibello" is an AIDS activist living with HIV and bipolar disorder who has committed himself to reaching out to others and letting them know they are not alone; and

WHEREAS, "Stephen" is founder of Bipolarbear.us, which has been operating for 10 years and which helped him share his experiences recovering from drug abuse and facing the challenges of living with HIV and bipolar disorder; and

WHEREAS, "Stephen" was awarded a Voice Award Fellowship by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration within the US Department of Health and Human Services; and

WHEREAS, "Stephen" was also recognized by POZ Magazine as one of 100 Unsung Heroes in America sharing their experiences and helping others in the HIV Community; and

NOW, THEREFORE, by the virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the Borough of Cliffside Park, I Gerald A. Calabrese, do hereby extend our sincere thanks to "Stephen A. Puibello" for his dedication and commitment to the Cliffside Park Community.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gay community faces mental health challenges


Gay community faces mental health challenges

Brian Hodder
 

Over the past few years, there has been a growing awareness in our society around the impact of mental health on all sectors of our population.

With a number of recent high-profile cases, including the recent suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams, people are beginning to realize how serious this issue is and how powerful an impact mental health can have on an individual’s life.

This past week marked Mental Illness Awareness Week and Friday was also recognized worldwide as World Mental Health Day. This reflects this growing recognition of the impact of mental illness in our society.
As a group that has dealt with a history of discrimination, the gay community has been greatly affected by mental health issues and there remains much work to be done in this area.

A Canadian study released last month illustrates how seriously the gay community is impacted by mental health. In the study, which was published in the current issue of Critical Public Health, the authors examined suicide and HIV-related mortality information from Statistics Canada, the Canadian Community Health Survey and other sources from the years 2000 to 2011.

Among the primary findings was that more gay/bisexual men now die of suicide than from HIV-related illnesses; in 2011 — the latest year of data — 157 gay and bisexual men died from suicide compared to 97 who died as a result of HIV-related illnesses.

Overall, it was noted that while HIV-related deaths in Canada have declined steadily since 2000, suicide rates have remained relatively stable, surpassing HIV as a leading cause of death for gay/bisexual men in 2007.

The findings also revealed that gay/bisexual men are four times more likely to have attempted suicide than their straight counterparts.

These findings should raise the alarm to look at how health-related funding needs to be used when targeted at the gay male community. While traditionally HIV was seen as the greatest health threat facing our community — and it remains an important priority still — it is clear that there are other pressures impacting the health of our community which are not being addressed adequately. Most health-related services that are targeted towards the gay male community in our larger urban centres are based around our sexuality and sex with other men; however, it is clear from this study that the issues are much larger than that and that our approach to the health of our community needs to be broadened.

Another critical finding of this study relates to the age group in our community that is most affected by death through suicide. While the study found that suicide attempts are more common during adolescent years, the fatality rate increases with age. In fact, most of the gay men dying from suicide are over the age of 30.
While it is important to make sure that children have access to the services they need — and we are slowly doing a better job of this in Canada — it is clear that we also need to find a way to reach the men who do not come out until they are adults and are less likely to know where and how to access the help they may need. If we fail to acknowledge the mental health needs of our community, this trend of deaths through suicide is likely to continue.

What seems clear to me is that there needs to be more emphasis on mental health all through the year and not just during one week in October. While there are many causes of mental illness, research has shown that minorities that experience discrimination and violence are much more prone to developing these problems, and homophobia is still a major factor in our society for many.

While most health services developed and targeted towards the gay community have related to our physical health, it is time that our mental health needs were also recognized and services developed to address them.
A healthy body and a healthy mind is just as important for gay men as it is for the rest of the members of Canadian society.

 Brian Hodder is a past-chairman of
Newfoundland Gays and Lesbians
for Equality.

Geographic location: Canada

Friday, October 3, 2014

I never thought I would see 71 years old... I have a new outlook on Life

 Happy Belated Birthday
Nello Carlini

When I was diagnosed HIV+ and bipolar in 1996 I never in my life thought I would live to see 71 years old.  I told myself years later when I turned fifty five that I'd  love to see sixty six, the age my mom passed due to breast cancer.  I live and volunteer around seniors, just walked home with my loving neighbor Kay who's 91 years old, I call here Nana. Tonight as we walked up the small hill together I said, wow how it would be nice to live as old as Kay, my Aunt Jo, my Aunt Felice all 91 years old, but then drifted back to sixty-six years old knowing I'm living with bipolar disorder and am HIV positive.

I received POZ magazine today in the mail.  I opened it before going to bed, took all my medications and feel asleep with visions of growing older, knowing others also diagnosed HIV positive are living older, case in point, page 48 POZ magazine October/November 2014.   Happy belated birthday to Nello Carlini who's living out and out about his being HIV positive since diagnosed at age 71 years old.

Possible you've read statistics on what happens in 2015 and 2020 for folks living with HIV.  In 2015 50 %, I've also read 46% of those will be over 50+ years old.  Then in 2020 that % jumps as high as 71%.

Starting October 23, 2014  I will be taking 24 hours of training on HIV, Aging and Health Issues offered by the Council of Senior Centers and Services of NYC.   The following topics will be covered and I will write about each of these, sharing what I've learned, these are:

  • Intro to HIV and Aging
  • Aging, HIV and Co-Morbidities-- the presence of one or more additional disorders (or diseases)
  • Aging, HIV and Mental Health
  • Aging, HIV and Nutrition
  • Elder Abuse, Domestic Violence and HIV
I live in Public Housing, folks who live here are Veterans, Seniors and those with Disabilities, I'm out and open about being a gay man living with both HIV and bipolar disorder.  I'm well received by all, I volunteer here, chat with all neighbors who wish to chat, as socialization is pivotal to living a long healthy life.  I was in awe one day when one of my neighbors said when are we going to see you with a handsome fella, you have no idea how that made me feel, and at soon to be 56 and with folks like Nello Carlini who's 90 years old I may have a handsome fella within the next thirty four years or even older.  Love comes at any age.




RESOURCES:

HIV Among Older American

Aging with HIV
"If you are aging with HIV/AIDS, having a support system will help you stay physically and mentally healthier. You can find support systems through your healthcare provider, your local community center or AIDS service organization, or friends and family."