Thriving Communities

Communities foster a sense of belonging that helps us lead happier, healthier lives. DBSA promotes supportive, active communities through our chapters and support groups as well as our peer trainings. Through these programs, people discover that they are not alone, help their peers as well as themselves, and find—sometimes for the first time—that their inner strength is far greater than they had imagined.

Chapter Programs

We are very proud of the wonderful work done by our chapters and their peer-run support groups. Research shows that peer support is instrumental in helping individuals living with mood disorders toward thriving lives. In addition to hosting support groups, chapters also engage in important educational activities, community outreach, and advocacy work. In 2014, DBSA’s 256 chapters with 713 support groups hosted 54,678 participants.

Members of my support group reached out to me and made me realize I was not alone. If not for the support I received, I probably wouldn’t be here.

New Programs for Chapters

Depression Kit

All 256 chapters received a portfolio packed with educational resources designed to help support group members and assist chapters in hosting programs in their communities on depression awareness.

Board and Incorporation Webinars

Chapters were introduced to best practices and legal considerations in operating independent 501c3 non-profit organizations.

Conference Collaboration with DBSA New Jersey

On August 16, in Union, NJ, DBSA partnered with the DBSA state organization on their conference “From Surviving to Thriving”. Program highlights included a keynote address from award-winning journalist and best-selling author Marya Hornbacher and a Q&A session about the power of peer support with DBSA President Allen Doederlein and platinum-selling recording artist, author, actress, and mental health advocate Demi Lovato. Ms. Lovato’s appearance was part of her year-long Mental Health Listening and Engagement Tour, undertaken to help her become a stronger advocate for mental health.

The following day, DBSA offered a day-long Chapter Leadership Forum which was streamed live. Based on DBSA Peer Specialist Training, the program showed chapter leaders how to keep support groups wellness-based while at the same time meeting participants at their personal stage of recovery. Total weekend attendance was 150.

Thriving Chapters Webinar

DBSA president Allen Doederlein introduced chapters to the DBSA 2014 theme, The Year of Thriving, and facilitated dialogue about creating active chapters.

Leadership Transition Program and Webinar

Chapters explored sharing and expanding leadership opportunities in transition planning and how to cultivate new chapter leaders.

In-Person Facilitator Trainings

DBSA staffers offered an orientation to support group facilitators on effective group facilitation and various approaches to inspiring an atmosphere of wellness. Programs took place in Chicago, IL; Nashville, TN; Rockland County, NY; and Washington DC.

Webinar on Suicide Discussion in Support Groups

Chapter leaders learned how to provide a safe and supportive environment for all support group participants, including those struggling with suicidal thoughts.

Core Programs for Chapters

Chapter Management Portal

DBSA offers a password-protected chapter management section on that provides chapters a host of tools and resources to help them present educational events in their communities, fundraise to support local programming, and improve their support groups.

Chapter Recognition Awards

DBSA’s Chapter Recognition Awards are given annually to chapters who have achieved a high level of excellence in their year’s work. Winners receive a cash award, plaque, and travel stipend to attend the Chapter Leadership Forum where they are recognized before their peers. Congratulations to our 2014 winners!
Learn about their achievements →

Peer Services Training

DBSA Veteran Peer Specialist Training

DBSA is a recognized leader in peer specialist workforce training. We are especially proud to be a preferred provider of peer support training for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. This year we completed a series of national contracts with the VA as part of a major expansion of their peer support services. DBSA was responsible for training and certifying Veteran peer support staff to prepare them to assume varied peer support roles in VA medical centers and other facilities. 155 Veteran peer specialists have been trained by DBSA as a result of national and state contracts. →

If the rating scale were 1-10, I would give the course a 10++. The instructors were absolutely amazing and truly inspiring.
—Battle Buddies Program participant

DBSA Core Peer Specialist Training

Our core training is a five-day, 40-hour curriculum, facilitated by nationally recognized trainers, and focuses on recovery principles, peer support intervention skills, and ethical practice. It now incorporates small group coaching sessions and can be used to meet many state and VA training and certification requirements. 126 people completed this training in 2014. →