Welcome to 2014: The Year of Thriving

DBSA welcomes 2014 with a year-long campaign, 2014: The Year of Thriving. Of course we all want to thrive, but for us at DBSA, this idea goes far beyond just being a nice sentiment or catchy campaign theme. DBSA is changing the discussion around mental health—because we believe it is crucial to shift the focus from surviving mental health symptoms to building truly thriving lives.

So in 2014, we're asking our peers, families, clinicians, researchers, politicians, and the public to expect more. We as a community need to promote and seek full wellness—because better is not well.

The cost of settling for reduced symptoms is simply too great. It is, in fact, a matter of life and death—for when residual symptoms exist, we who have mood disorders are

  • at significantly greater risk of relapse(1)
  • more likely to experience significant functional impairment, making the day‐to‐day demands of job and family challenging, and too often, debilitating. (2)
  • more likely to have life‐threatening co‐occurring conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes—a huge factor in why individuals with mental health conditions die, on average, 25 years younger than those without mental health conditions (3)
  • at a higher risk to die by suicide (4)

DBSA’s 2014: The Year of Thriving is a year-long focus on programming that challenges each of us to raise our personal wellness expectations from just better to truly well; to demand a new focus on treatment options and methodologies that have zero residual symptoms as the goal; and to take action, in our own lives and in service of others, to help make this goal a reality. Watch DBSA President, Allen Doederlein, share a few program highlights from DBSA’s 2014: The Year of Thriving.

We hope you join us as we change the conversation, minds, goals, and outcomes in 2014: The Year of Thriving.

DBSA Year of Thriving Programming for 2014

In addition to our core programming focused on providing life-saving peer support, in-depth information, educational resources, and tools to empower individuals living with, and/or affected by, mood disorders, DBSA delivered the following 2014 Year of Thriving programs.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Veterans Peer Specialist Training
January - June, 2014

In June, 2014, DBSA completed a series of national contracts with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for training and certification of Veteran peer support staff employed by VA facilities across the country. This training prepared individual Veterans to assume varied peer support roles in VA medical centers and other facilities as part of a major expansion of peer support services within VA facilities. Training began in February 2013 and was delivered via a combination of face-to-face and webinar-based instruction, followed by completion of a certification examination. DBSA is honored and proud to have trained more than 540 Veteran peer specialists since February 2013. Training for veterans is still available through DBSA core-training opportunities.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Balance Mind Parent Network
January, 2014, and forward

In January, 2014, DBSA and the Balanced Mind Foundation (TBMF) joined forces to improve the mental health of, and facilitate wellness for, individuals living with mood disorders from childhood throughout adulthood. Under a single organization, we now have a greater potential, through early intervention, to help reduce the severity of mental health issues for children as they grow and will be able to provide consistent support as they transition from childhood to adulthood and throughout their lives. The Balanced Mind Parent Network (BMPN), now a program of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), guides families raising children with mood disorders to the answers, support and stability they seek through 20 Online Support Networks for parents of children with depression or bipolar disorder; a Family Helpline that answers inquiries within 48 hours; and an online library of information, tools, and resources.

Learn more or find support.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Target Zero to Thrive
April, 2014

DBSA targeted raising expectations for mental health treatment in April with a month-long social media campaign, Target Zero to Thrive, that challenged mental health care professionals, researchers, and individuals living with or affected by mood disorders to raise treatment goals to complete remission—to zero symptoms. 

Read more about this exciting campaign and join us!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Positive Six: ThriveSix months of positive actions to connect to your health and community

May through October, 2014—DBSA featured a new +6 challenge aimed at strengthening connections to your health, relationships, and community. This year’s DBSA +6 campaign focused on thriving by enhancing wellness. Each month’s challenge correlated with the five measurements identified in the World Health Organization’s five point WHO-5 Well-Being Index. DBSA +6  was designed to help anyone, but especially the over 21 million people who live with mood disorders, to live a happier life by making small changes with big impact. 

Learn more about this six-month challenge.


Hill Day 2014
May 2014

DBSA was proud to partner again this year with the National Council on Behavioral Health for Hill Day 2014. A day for mental health advocacy and professional organizations to join forces to advocate for improvements in the mental health care system with legislators on Capital Hill in Washington, DC. We are indeed stronger together! DBSA is dedicated to ensuring the voice of the lived experience is represented in D.C. and in forums across the nation where critical issues of mental health are being decided. 

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Restoring Intimacy Webinar
July and November, 2014

Depression and bipolar disorder pose a challenge not just to our health, but to our closest relationships as well. As partners struggle against the fallout of guilt, confusion, and anger, genuine affection and intimacy often become all but impossible to maintain. The Restoring Intimacy webinar takes a realistic look at the challenges as well as practical ways to make intimate relationships work better under such conditions.

Watch archived webinar. 

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA Advocacy Training and Grassroots Network
August and throughout 2014

In August, DBSA worked with the National Council for Behavioral Health to train 20 individuals from five states as peer advocates. DBSA’s advocacy work in 2014 also focused developing grassroots advocacy efforts in eight  states facing particular challenges with mental health legislation, policy, or regulatory issues. Efforts included several state-level advocacy workshops, additional training and support in cultivating a state advocacy network, as well as specific calls to action on a number of state and national mental health legislation. 

Learn more in the DBSA Advocacy Center.


From Surviving to Thriving Weekend
August, 2014

DBSA partnered with DBSA New Jersey this past August for the "From Surviving to Thriving Weekend," a two-day event featuring the NJ state conference and the DBSA 2014 Chapter Leadership Forum. The weekend featured a multitude of educational sessions and focused learning opportunities for chapter leaders and members. Weekend highlights included inspirational keynotes by acclaimed author Marya Hornbacher and former governor, NJ State Senator, Richard Codey, as well as a live interview with platinum-selling recording artist, author, actress, and mental health advocate, Demi Lovato.


Better Is Not Well Live and Web-Streamed Event
September, 2014

On Thursday, September 25, 2014, DBSA hosted Better is Not Well, a web-streamed moderated panel discussion exploring how peers and clinicians working together to raise the expectations for the treatment of mood disorders. A live audience joined panelists Judith Cook, PhD; William Gilmer, MD; Rebecca Fulk; and Robert Haggard at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Many more participated as a part of DBSA Chapter viewing parties around the country, or from the comfort of their own homes, submitting questions through the Better is Not Well chat rooms.

If you missed the discussion, view the video!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Treatment Choices 4-Part Webinar Series
Fall 2014

Too often, individuals living with a mood disorder can feel like their fate and quality of life is in the hands of others—that they have no real choice in finding the best path for treatment, and ultimately, their future. This can be disempowering and frustrating prospect that limits individuals’ ability to achieve wellness goals that are most important to them. The DBSA Treatment Choices 4-part webinar series explores how individuals can get back in the driver’s seat on their road to wellness.

Register for upcoming or watch archived webinars.


Healthcare Reform Webinar
November, 2014

Many people do not realize that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) created opportunity for individuals living with mood disorders to access mental health care benefits that may have previously been denied. Are you operating under outdated assumptions on what insurance benefits you are entitled to under the law? Learn about changes that provide more access to mental health care through improved insurance coverage.

Watch archived webinar.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA Wellness Tracker Enhancements
November, 2014

DBSA made two exciting enhancements to our highly praised DBSA Wellness Tracker online and phone app. First, we incorporated the World Health Organizations 5-point Well-Being Index to add wellness measures to our existing tracking features for mood, symptoms, life-influences, medication and side-effects, and physical health. Second, we developed an app for Android platform smart phones. Now more people have access to this powerful wellness tool!

Learn more about the DBSA Wellness Tracker.


WHO-5 Challenge
November, 2014 through December, 2015

If you are a practicing mental health professional, DBSA challenges you to incorporate the World Health Organization’s 5-point Well-Being Index (WHO-Five) scale into your practice for the next six months. It only takes a few minutes to include this self-evaluation into a visit and we’ve made it even easier by incorporating the WHO-Five into the DBSA Wellness Tracker. If the goal of mental health treatment is to move beyond mere survival, we must, of course address the symptoms of illness, but not at the exclusion of a focus on building wellness—wellness that is defined by the individual and includes a broader view by shifting the focus to overall quality of life.

Take the WHO-Five Challenge or ask your mental health professional to pledge!


Childhood Mood Disorders 3-Part Podcast Series
Throughout 2014

In 2014 DBSA launched a new series of parent-focused podcasts on childhood or adolescent depression or bipolar disorder. In the first three podcast in the series, DBSA Parent Volunteer Coordinator Julia Small sat down with clinical experts to discuss diagnosing bipolar disorder; understanding depression and anxiety; and collaboration and proactive solutions for caregivers.

Listen to the podcasts.


Care for Your Mind
Throughout 2014
a partnership with Families for Depression Awareness 

Care for Your Mind™ is a place where you and others affected by the mental health care system can openly discuss its strengths and weaknesses with thought leaders and advocates so that together we can build a solution that works. Government officials are urgently discussing mental health care delivery problems and feverishly debating policy changes that will profoundly impact each of us. Care for Your Mind™ provides you with diverse perspectives from policy makers, mental health experts, medical professionals, and health care reform advocates, along with personal experiences of people with mood disorders and their families. By learning about the issues and engaging in this dialogue, you will help increase everyone’s access to, and improve the quality of, mental health care in America.

Learn more and lend your voice!


(1) Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Sep;157(9):1501-4.
Does incomplete recovery from first lifetime major depressive episode herald a chronic course of illness?
Judd LL1, Paulus MJ, Schettler PJ, Akiskal HS, Endicott J, Leon AC, Maser JD, Mueller T, Solomon DA, Keller MB.

(2) J Clin Psychiatry. 2007 Aug;68(8):1237-45.
Mood symptoms, functional impairment, and disability in people with bipolar disorder: specific effects of mania and depression.
Simon GE1, Bauer MS, Ludman EJ, Operskalski BH, Unützer J.

(3) Bipolar Disord. 2004 Oct;6(5):368-73.
Burden of general medical conditions among individuals with bipolar disorder.
Kilbourne AM1, Cornelius JR, Han X, Pincus HA, Shad M, Salloum I, Conigliaro J, Haas GL.

(4) Psychiatr Serv. 2013 Dec 1;64(12):1195-202. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201200587.
Does response on the PHQ-9 Depression Questionnaire predict subsequent suicide attempt or suicide death?
Simon GE, Rutter CM, Peterson D, Oliver M, Whiteside U, Operskalski B, Ludman EJ.