DBSA Online Support Group User Guide

DBSA online support groups provide people living with depression and bipolar disorder and their friends and family a place to share experiences, discuss coping skills, and offer hope to one another. DBSA support groups are peer-led, meaning they are facilitated by someone living with a mood disorder or, if appropriate, friends or family members.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who attends DBSA online support groups?
The primary participants in DBSA online support group meetings are people diagnosed with a mood disorder and those who believe they may have a mood disorder. The DBSA online support group with a family and friends focus is primarily for family and friends of people living with a mood disorder.

Can everyone participate in DBSA online support groups?
Anyone over the age of 18 with access to the internet can sign-up to participate in a DBSA online support group. Though registration is open to everyone who meets the age requirement, please note that attendance at each meeting is capped at 12 participants to allow for productive conversation. Admission to the online support group meeting is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Is there an age requirement to participate in the DBSA online support groups?

Yes. You must be at least 18 years of age to participate in DBSA's online support groups. Users under the age of 18 will be asked to leave the group and their accounts will be suspended.

What format do DBSA online support groups follow?

DBSA online support groups follow the same format as most DBSA in-person support groups. The format is as follows:

  • Gathering time - The group assembles.
  • Welcome - Facilitators bring the group together and provide focus.
  • Review what will happen at the meeting and group guidelines - Participants are asked to look over the guidelines at every meeting.
  • Check-in - Participants briefly let the group know how they’re feeling and what they’d like to discuss during the meeting.
  • Discussion - This is the heart of a DBSA group. Often the discussion will be based on common concerns or themes that came up during the check-in time.
  • Closing - Facilitators bring closure to the session.

What are the DBSA online support group guidelines?

  • Share the air. We want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to share. Time is limited, though, so we ask that everyone be respectful of other participants' share-time needs.
  • Give back. We recognize that we often benefit as much by supporting others as we do by sharing our own struggles, triumphs, and experiences.
  • One person shares at a time. Each person should be allowed to share without interruptions or side conversations.
  • What is shared here stays here. This is the essential principle of confidentiality and must be respected by all.
  • Differences of opinion are okay. We are all entitled to our own point of view.
  • We are all equal. Accept cultural, linguistic, social, and racial differences and promote their acceptance.
  • Use “I” language. Because we do not participate in support groups as credentialed professionals, we do not instruct or advise. We do, however, share from our own personal experiences. We are unique individuals, and only we know what is best for our own health (along with our doctor’s recommendations). Example: “In my experience, I have found…”
  • It’s okay not to share. People do not have to share if they do not wish to. However, because space in the online support groups is limited, we ask that all participants check in with a facilitator via private message if they do not wish to share or if they arrive late to a group.
  • It’s everyone’s responsibility to make the discussion groups a safe place to share. We respect confidentiality, treat each other with respect and kindness, and show compassion.
  • Please arrive on time and commit to stay until the end. People who arrive 30 minutes after the meeting begins will be asked to leave and return at a later date when they are able to join us from the beginning.
  • You must be 18 years of age to enter the online support groups.

Who facilitates DBSA online support groups?
DBSA online support groups are led by two peer facilitators, both of whom either live with depression or bipolar disorder or are family members or friends of someone living with a mood disorder. As peers, DBSA online support group facilitators lead the group but are also there to find support themselves.

I'm interested in training to be an online support group facilitator. How do I apply?
To be considered for the next facilitator training, please complete the Online Support Group Facilitator Application. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.

How do I sign up to participate in a DBSA online support group?
To sign up to participate in an online support group, please click here. Each participant will be asked for a username, password, and an email address. When choosing a chat room nickname, remember that this nickname will appear on the chat screen when you participate in the online support groups. Please choose wisely. Please note that nicknames using offensive language will be disabled.

Why I am I not able to log in to the online support group, even though my username and password are valid?
If you are able to log in to the online meeting rooms but can't get into the online support group, chances are the group is already full. Each online support group is capped at 12 participants, including facilitators, and participation is on a first-come, first-served basis.

When are the DBSA online support groups?
The online support group meeting room opens 10 minutes before the start of the session and closes 30 minutes after the group has ended. The online meeting room is not open at other times. Our rooms fill up quickly, so please arrive early. Participation in the groups is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The online support group meeting room opens 10 minutes before the start of the online support group and closes 30 minutes after the group has ended. The online meeting room is not open at other times. Our rooms fill up quickly, so please arrive early. Participation in the groups is on a first-come, first-served basis.

General Group

  • Mondays at 10pm Eastern (9pm Central, 8pm Mountain, 7pm Pacific, 3am Tuesday GMT) 

Looking for a real-time online support group that meets at another time?

Please note, DBSA does not endorse any organization listed below nor endorse or recommend the use of any specific treatment or medication listed on this website.

Depression Recovery Groups (video-based, real-time online support group)

Depression Recovery Groups (video-based, real-time online support group) The founder of our Conejo Valley, California chapter has used his experience with support groups and technology to develop a new type of online meeting. The peer-led meetings are done with webconference technology. This allows participants to see their group leader and to talk with each other using a phone line or VOIP (their computer). Participants can also see and interact with slides that facilitators use to help structure the meetings. Meetings are free but there is a voluntary "virtual pass the basket" where participants can contribute whatever they feel is appropriate. Click on this link to join the site and register for the Depression Recovery Group meeting: www.depressionrecoverygroups.com/DBSA.

What are the terms of use for the online support groups?
The terms of use for the online support groups are available here.

Will my contact information be shared with anyone in the online support goup?
When you sign up to participate in the DBSA online support groups, your username and email address will be shared with the group facilitators only. The facilitators will use this contact information for purposes strictly related to the support group, i.e. to remind participants of a meeting, to check in on disruptive participants or participants in crisis, or to check in on a member that has been unexpectedly absent from the online support group meetings. Participants may choose to share their contact information with other members of the group at their own discretion. IF you do choose to share your personal information with another member of the group, we recommend that you do not share this information in the general chat room but in a private message.

How do I send a private message to the facilitator during the support group?
In the Users tab on the right side of the chat window, select the facilitator (facilitators appear in yellow) to whom you’d like to send a private message. Once you’ve selected a user (that user’s name will be highlighted), click the button in the Users tab that is second from the left—it has a speech bubble and ear on it. A new window will pop up, allowing you to have a private conversation with the user you’ve selected. During support group meetings, you should only send private messages to the facilitator. Sending private messages to other users is considered "cross talk."

How do I warn a disruptive member of the group?
It’s possible that a participant may become disruptive, abusive, or demeaning during the course of a support group meeting. To warn a disruptive member of the group, participants should send a private message to the facilitator indicating who is being warned and what the objectionable behavior is. For example, if Joe is using inappropriate language during the support group meeting, Cathy might send a message to the facilitator, saying, “Please warn Joe about his swearing.” The facilitator will then send a private message to the participant who received the warning. Participants should try not to disrupt the support group by warning another participant publicly.

Will a disruptive participant be asked to leave the online support group?
If a participant receives a total of 3 separate warnings during the course of the support group meeting, the facilitator may remove that participant from the chat room for the remainder of the session. If a member is habitually disruptive and repeatedly asked to leave the support group, the facilitators (in consultation with DBSA staff) will be able to suspend that participant from the online support groups.

What should I do if I need to step away from the online support group for a few minutes?
If you need to step away from your computer for a few minutes, please contact one of the facilitators (through a private message) to let them know.

How do I retrieve a lost username or password?
If you do not remember your username, please email chapters@DBSAlliance.org. We can look up your username using your email address. To retrieve a lost password, click on the "Recover lost password" link in the Java log in box. You will need to know your username and the email you registered with.

What are the technical requirements for participating in the DBSA online support groups?
All participants will need to register the first time they log in to the online meeting room. This registration is different than your registration on the main DBSA website. You will only need to register once. The online support group requires Java; click here to see if your computer has Java. If your computer does not have Java, you can download it for free from http://www.java.com/.

I'm having trouble signing in to the DBSA online support groups. What should I do?
Utilizing the DBSA online support groups requires a separate registration. You must create a new user account to access the groups. To register for the online support groups, click the "Create a new user account" link at the bottom of the login box. If you click the "Create a new user account" link and nothing happens, please be sure your computer's pop-up blockers are disabled. If you are still having problems, please email webmaster@DBSAlliance.org.

Who do I contact with all non-technical questions?
You may contact Ingrid Deetz, Director of Chapter Relations, at ideetz@DBSAlliance.org.

I am a student or professional interested in observing an online support group. What should I do?
Currently, our support groups do not allow observers due to the size limits on the rooms and confidentiality concerns. Some of our in-person groups will allow observers. To see if there is an in-person group near you, use the Support Group Locator.

How do I find an in-person DBSA support group in my local community?
DBSA has more than 300 independent affiliate chapters offering more than 700 in-person peer-led support groups across the country. Use the Support Group Locator to find an in-person support group near you or call DBSA’s toll free number at (800) 826-3632. If there is no DBSA group in your community, DBSA would like to help you start one. To request a free DBSA start-up guide, click here.