"Bipolar Bear, Stephen Puibello, has been an active member of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center's Community Advisory Board for four years (August 2016 to August 2020). His contributions have been too numerous to name but he has been particularly effective working on our Mental Health committee. Stephen’s ability to share his story of substance use issues and mental health has been so inspiring to our participants. He has served as the chair of the Advisory Board for years and raised substantial funds for our Rainbow Run. I think most impressive has been his ability to ensure he is always bringing mental health awareness to the forefront of our discussions in a thoughtful and meaningful way. He has given us valuable insight into his experience as a patient that has changed the way we provide service. He also has been instrumental in assisting us to highlight Mental Health Awareness Month each May. His contribution to the care and service we give to our patients has been tireless and full of integrity."
--- Finn Brigham, Director of Project Management/Staff Liaison to the Callen-Lorde Community Advisory Board
"Stephen has been a dedicated participant in the AIDS/LifeCycle for years, both as a rider and a roadie. During that time, he has been instrumental in helping to bring the attention of the ride community to the often intertwined issues of depression, substance use and HIV. Any one of those issues might intimidate someone from speaking up about their experiences. But Stephen has shown great courage in talking about all of them. In the process, he has helped to educate others and reduce the stigma associated with this triumvirate of challenges."
--- Lorri L. Jean, Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles LGBT Center
"The Bipolar Bear came out here tonight and talked about the mental health issues he's living with. By doing that, talking about the issues, he lessens stigma by showing others they are not alone. By using his voice, he gives others hope. This is just one example of how healing happens in the community."
--- Scott A. Kramer LSCW, ACSW, Hi-five Support, A Support Group for Gay Men Living with HIV/AIDS
"Stephen- I am an MFT who works with individuals in a residential facility with chronic mental illnesses, such as Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. Reading your story is inspiring, because it shows people that you don't have to be completely debilitated by your illness and you can succeed if you put your mind to it. When my clients complain that they can't do things, it's stories like yours that I bring up, to help them see that they can do whatever they dream of if they believe in themselves. Thank you for that."
--- Jenifer S. (Rider #5263)
"Hi Stephen-- I felt compelled to write to you and tell you how moved I was (am) by the material and writing on your website. As someone who has been directly impacted by the serious mental illness of several members of my family (although not within the HIV + population), there is an abundance of material that deeply resonates with me, and makes me feel, in your words, not alone, even though I perhaps do not belong in the audience this website it geared toward.Thank you for everything you do, for touching people's lives in this way, and for shedding light on these profoundly important issues. I feel very grateful that people like you exist and contribute to the world in this way."
--- Amanda Lezera, Guest to the site
"Stephen's work over the past few years continues to amaze me! He has taken a double diagnosis that would stop most people in their tracks and turned it into something powerful. By sharing his story he is making a bigger difference than he will ever know, helping countless people in similar situations. I know it is not always easy for him to step into the spotlight and his doing so is an incredibly generous, kind and courageous act. I am proud to be his friend. He inspires me."
--- Blake Strasser, Positive Pedalers National Board of Directors, and Rider Coach for BRAKING AIDS® Ride
"Stephen has dedicated his life to staying healthy and modeling good health for body and soul. Some people would be unable to get past the devastation when diagnosed with two very serious illnesses. Stephen meets his health issues head on and wants others to be able to do so as well. He is now working to help providers understand the road to health that has changed his life."
--- Janet Weinberg, Interim Chief Executive Officer/COO Gay Men's Health Crisis
"In my work with mental health consumers and advocates, I have the pleasure of collaborating with many passionate, engaged, and caring people who genuinely want to make a difference. Stephen Puibello is one of the most engaged and informed advocates and activists I’ve ever come across. If you look at his website,www.bipolarbear.us, you’ll see detailed information on a dizzying array of agencies, causes, issues, and forums. He works effectively with elected officials; the proclamation he recently received from the leadership of the city where he lives, Cliffside Park, attests to this. Most people (myself included) focus tightly on one issue, or agency, or challenge in the community. Stephen’s energy and ambition are bigger than that. That breadth of vision inspires me in the work that I do."
--- Christian Huygen, Ph.D. Executive Director Rainbow Heights Club, Brooklyn, NY
"Your presentation raised our awareness about the challenges and opportunities inherent in working with clients who have HIV and mental illness, and in some cases substance abuse issues as well."
--- Karen Landovitz, LCSW / Senior Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker / Gay Men's Health Crisis
"Stephen has been able to use his skills as a journalist, his natural ability to connect with others, and his passion to create awareness of stigma around mental health issues. This is an issue that is often glossed over in the LGBT community, and one that Stephen has bravely stepped forward to address."
--- Gary R. McClain, PhD, LMHC
"Bipolar Bear is my hero breaking ground people don't tread and ignore, speaking OUT about living with Bipolar and HIV. As a gay man he challenges us to face facts on how mental health condition's affect people living with HIV/AIDS and LGBT communities more than the general population due to stigma, discrimination, addiction, self medication and death by suicide. Stephen A. Puibello wakes us up with facts, educates, he rides, raises funds, and enlightens and bears witness. Bravo!!!"
--- Mark A. Davis, Founder Pink & Blue's Support Group, Philadelphia, PA., Proud gay man living with Bipolar II and HIV+ since 1988
"Stephen has been an active and steadfast member of the NAMI GLBT Networking Group. He has been an invaluable supporter and advisor to the work of NAMI to meaningfully include and support GLBT individuals. He provides this group and communities beyond his NAMI family with resources through his voluntarily maintained website and blog with which he shares a unique perspective of personal recovery and experiences with bipolar disorder, HIV and substance abuse. He has built a strong awareness-building platform for these issues through cycling events, media outreach and many contacts he makes to advocate and raise funds for recovery efforts."
--- Marin Swesey, Program Manager, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Multicultural Action Center, 2008-2013