DBSA is proud to recognize exemplary service by DBSA chapters and their support groups. Beyond peer-run support groups, chapter activities may include advocacy efforts, community outreach, education, and more. DBSA Chapter Spotlights are a way to showcase the exciting achievements of our grassroots network throughout the year. We also recognize outstanding chapters, state organizations, and their leaders each spring through the annual Service Awards. Service Award winners receive a cash award, a commemorative plaque, bulk copies of bp and esperanza magazine for one year, and a travel stipend to attend Chapter Leadership Forum where they receive recognition in front of their peers.
Contact your local chapter to find out what they’re doing in your community!
DBSA New Jersey - 2014 State Organization Service Award
DBSA New Jersey is a shining
example of commitment to DBSA’s mission. They jumped at a variety of
opportunities to strengthen their services, launch new initiatives, and partner
with the national office of DBSA in 2014. It was an exciting year that saw
outreach to local chapters and the general community in New Jersey reach
further than ever before. They enhanced the facilitator capacity in local
support groups by providing three training sessions, promoted DBSA support
groups to professionals and at a variety of events statewide, all while providing
encouragement and mentorship to chapter leaders.
Jersey is also an active participant in DBSA’s grassroots efforts becoming one
of the inaugural state-wide grassroots organizations (GO). In 2014 they hosted
the first of the national office of DBSA’s state-wide advocacy workshops by
securing speakers and assisting in developing the agenda that has been
replicated in other states. A steering team was formed with participants
serving on local mental health boards, developing points of view on mental
health legislation and joining with other mental health advocacy organizations
in the state to educate state legislators on issues of access to quality mental
achievement was their annual conference held in conjunction with DBSA’s Chapter
Leadership Forum. The conference drew a record number of attendees including
peers from New Jersey and chapter leaders from numerous states. They worked
closely with the national office of DBSA to organize this event, assist with
selecting the conference venue, and provide the opportunity for author Marya Hornbacher
and musician and advocate Demi Lovato to speak as keynotes. Thank you, DBSA New
Jersey, for all your amazing accomplishments!
DBSA Rockland County (NY) - 2014 Large Chapter Service Award
Rockland County (NY) identified “getting the word out” as their catch phrase to
summarize 2014’s accomplishments. Over the course of the year they engaged in a
variety of community outreach endeavors including a speaker series, comedy
show, and educational sessions on mood disorders with peers sharing their
recovery journeys. New tools such as an interactive website, Meetup.com page,
and private Facebook group provided additional avenues for people to find
support. In the advocacy realm, chapter activities centered around spreading
the word about DBSA to local representatives and participating in focus groups
to provide input on how to improve the mental health system in their county.
these efforts resulted in exponential growth in support group participation,
moving to a larger meeting facility, and increasing the number of facilitators to better
serve their continually expanding membership. DBSA Rockland County considered
their growth as an opportunity to empower more participants to take on leadership
One of their
proudest developments was the institution of a facilitators support group where
facilitators can discuss best practices and help train new facilitators. They
also diversified the leadership structure by creating more positions,
increasing the number of directors, and implementing training to ensure smooth
transitions in leadership. Through these efforts, the message “We’ve been
there. We can help” has reached more individuals in their local area. Thank you
for your commendable work, DBSA Rockland County!
DBSA Princeton (NJ) - 2014 Small Chapter Service Award
Princeton (NJ) reached out to their community in new and exciting ways!
The chapter’s activities included bringing workshops to local psychiatric
hospitals to introduce patients to the concept of peer support groups and
offering their chapter as a resource for education and support. These
presentations feature personal testimonials by group participants and are
presented in an engaging Q&A format.
represented DBSA and delivered the DBSA Depression Community Education Program
at various health fairs—educating peers, families, and local facilities about
mood disorders and the DBSA Princeton support groups. As word spreads about the
positive impact of their outreach efforts, the chapter has created partnerships
with other mental health facilities.
advocate for the needs of persons living with mental health conditions, they
began attending the meetings of the Mercer County Mental Health Board, which
led to the Director of Mental Health Services for the county inviting them to
have a representative on the board.
chapter instituted changes and expansions in their peer support efforts. They
identified and empowered people from a neighboring town to create a new group,
bringing peer support to an area of their state which had previously lacked a
DBSA chapter. They also welcomed a therapy dog into the support group. He is a
valued attendee providing welcome emotional support—and entertainment—at their
these efforts they are helping to build more opportunities for support and
leadership in the peer community, as well as providing valuable education in
their local area. Keep up the great work, DBSA Princeton!
DBSA Shanghai Tulip Mental Health Center (China) - 2014 Rookie Chapter Service Award
they only formed in April 2014, DBSA Shanghai Tulip Mental Health Center
(China) has an impressive array of accomplishments in each of the four primary
functions of DBSA chapters. As the first DBSA support group in China, they
received overwhelming media report through fifteen TV, radio, print, and online
outlets. Their public policy activities included submitting an opinion letter
to include NGOs in governmental mental health projects, which was successfully
adopted into law.
nineteen educational meetings, the chapter reached 522 participants and
recruited fifty volunteers. They utilized crowd-funding to raise the rent money
for their meeting space for a full year and the campaign also spread awareness
and attracted twenty participants and volunteers.
distributed more than 800 brochures and trained more than 700 individuals about
peer support group concepts. Within eight months they had established a second
support group and were reaching out to support sister organizations in other
cities starting peer support groups in their communities. We are impressed by
their energy and velocity and can’t wait to hear about their future
Diane Dworkin of DBSA Longmont Supporting Together (CO) - 2014 Outstanding Leadership Award
contact for the chapter, Diane provides understanding and support daily to
numerous people in need, helping them connect with the support group and
providing referrals to local therapists, temporary lodging, or other programs
that might be helpful. Through her warmth and sincerity as a facilitator she
provides a safe place where participants can receive support and rekindle hope.
She also coordinates a variety of fun activities such as potlucks and holiday
parties, which help participants benefit from a vibrant social life. Diane has
inspired group members to follow suit and volunteer for the chapter.
engages in education efforts and community outreach as well. She sets up a
booth each week at the local farmers market to publicize the support group as a
safe, non-judgmental network of friends and provides educational materials to
passersby. She started a lending library for group participants, invited mental
health professionals to speak, and shared updates on emerging research and
practices in the treatment of mood disorders.
a participant, Diane is “compassionate, attentive, patient, and has a great
sense of humor. She is a genuine, hard-working advocate for everyone in the
support group and beyond.” Thank you, Diane, for your inspiring devotion to our
Annie Lauri of DBSA Madison (TN) - 2014 Outstanding Leadership Award
been a leader of DBSA Madison for three years and was integral in growing the
chapter into one of the most active in Tennessee. Starting with an average
group attendance of six people at a monthly meeting, the group now welcomes
more than twenty participants at biweekly meetings thanks in large part to
Annie’s efforts. In addition, she started a family and friends support group.
developed the chapter website and spoke about DBSA in radio interviews and at
local health fairs. Understanding the vulnerability many people feel at their
first support group meeting, Annie created the role of hospitality ambassador
to warmly welcome each person to the meeting and send handwritten notes
inviting them to return. She coordinated a holiday party complete with
elaborate food, door prizes, and a photo booth.
Madison, Annie is active with the state organization DBSA Tennessee as an
inspiring speaker at nursing panels where she shares her journey to wellness
and educates the students about peer support. She also helps other chapters in
the state when they are having events. Annie acts as a mentor to new chapter
leaders and assists chapters during leadership transitions. Annie gives from
the heart, lives her compassion, and is a worthy recipient of this award.
Cheryl France, MD of DBSA West Virginia - 2014 Outstanding Professional Advisor Award
has been a part of DBSA West Virginia since its formation by serving as the
professional advisor and as a member of the board of directors. She has not
only provided her professional support but has also been a featured speaker at
a variety of state meetings and conferences, spreading the word about DBSA to
clients and colleagues. Dr. France is also instrumental in securing speakers
for other events for DBSA West Virginia. Thank you for your exemplary service,
Lois Kroplick, DO of DBSA Rockland County - 2014 Outstanding Professional Advisor Award
In her five
years as professional advisor to DBSA Rockland County, Dr. Kroplick has
actively promoted the group to her patients and to health care providers. She
also participates in board meetings, speaks at events, and writes for the
Dr. Kroplick, “being involved in community groups and helping others have
always been passions of mine. As a psychiatrist, my mission is twofold: to help
people change their individual lives and to encourage them to work with others
to help change their community.”
DBSA Tennessee - 2013 State Organization Service Award
DBSA Tennessee's amazing accomplishments made 2013 a rewarding year! They
supported chapters in their state by hosting educational presentations and
training programs, giving them the tools necessary for successful chapters.
With help from DBSA Tennessee, five local chapters were interviewed on
television or radio to promote DBSA to the community. Leaders encouraged one
chapter’s community outreach, resulting in a city-wide Mental Health Day
declared by their mayor. DBSA Tennessee’s robust plan to help new chapters in
the startup process helped find free meeting locations, assistance in
affiliation fees and paperwork, and provided a sponsor from an already
established chapter to assist the new chapter.
Five members of DBSA Tennessee attended DBSA’s Peer
Advocate Training in Washington, D.C. and then created an advocacy plan for
their state including a campaign against proposed budget cuts to close all 45
of Tennessee’s Peer Support Service Centers. DBSA Tennessee is a growing, thriving
organization. With its advocacy for peer support and local chapter start-up,
community outreach and commitment to peer education, DBSA Tennessee is one of
the most energetic affiliates of DBSA.
DBSA New York - 2013 State Organization Service Award
DBSA New York started up one year ago and their first year
was filled with successes. They have created a localized website for meeting
information, contact information, and literature. Thanks to their support to
new chapter leaders, support groups have sprouted up throughout Long Island and
two new support groups have started in Queens, with plans to open new chapters
in all boroughs of New York City. DBSA New York participated in local walks,
health fairs, suicide prevention symposiums to bring information and support to
people in need. They also participated in open panel discussions on mental
illness at Columbia University, private colleges, and local chapters of other
national mental health organizations to let everyone know that there is support
out there. We look forward to all that DBSA New York has in store for 2014!
DBSA Colorado Springs (CO) - 2013 Large Chapter Service Award
DBSA Colorado Springs has
set as its hallmark a consistently measured approach to growth as a chapter by
offering programs to best assist people with mood disorders achieve and
maintain wellness, and increasing its reputation as a viable and respected
service-oriented organization in their community. The chapter attended multiple
symposiums and health fairs including an event dedicated to Veterans and
Military Families, a school counselors conference, and Brain Awareness Week. The
chapter doubled the size of their weekly Inpatient Hospitalization and
Awareness program, which visited with more than 2,000 patients in adult,
adolescent, and Veteran units to provide recovery-oriented resources and
DBSA Colorado Springs holds
eight weekly support groups and provides bi-monthly facilitator meetings and
trainings. Thanks to their extensive base of volunteers, the chapter held more
than 50 events, answered 870 phone calls, and reached more than 4,000
individuals through support groups. The joy of successes they have celebrated
with each other for every achievement is a testament to the power of selfless
devotion to a shared mission.
DBSA MDSG Long Island (NY) - 2013 Large Chapter Service Award
DBSA MDSG Long Island experienced tremendous growth in
2013 through each of their services and efforts to help the people living in
their communities. They doubled their facilitator ranks and increased support
group offerings from three to nine groups. All facilitators were offered
multiple training opportunities as well as a web portal to access group
literature. The new groups included a teen group, a group for young adults
under the age of 30, a topic meeting, and a lecture series, with plans for a
GLBT group in the near future.
DBSA MDSG Long Island created public relations and
fundraising committees which led to several fundraising initiatives and
reaching out to local therapists and behavioral health programs to inform them
of the support group and other chapter programs. Participants joined local
walks, health fairs, and symposia dealing with mood disorders and suicide
prevention. Congratulations on an excellent year, DBSA MDSG Long Island!
DBSA Feeling Better About Ourselves (FL) - 2013 Small Chapter Service Award
DBSA Feeling Better About Ourselves is successful thanks to community outreach, training, educational
efforts, and support. The chapter has
grown from one support group to two groups thriving in different cities. Through
promotion in newsletters and hospital units, the chapter helped another group
that was in danger of closing due to lack of facilitators and participants.
DBSA FBAO hosted multiple classes to train facilitators. The meetings have seen
impressive growth and the group they helped has joined DBSA FBAO.
In support groups, leaders establish a format that keeps
the group moving. According to a participant, “There is a new visible strength
in these people who are not talking about the same thing every time. There is a
definite healing and acceptance going on.” Group leaders have also created a
variety of wellness-focused resources they provide to group participants and
community members through seminars and workshops. These programs cover topics
such as fear, processing anger, and grief. A chapter leader has spoken about
mood disorders to a group of law enforcement officers at a crisis intervention
DBSA Norman (OK) - 2013 Small Chapter Service Award
DBSA Norman might be small, but they have worked hard in
all of the functions of a DBSA chapter: advocacy, community outreach,
education, and support. In 2013 DBSA Norman grew to maintain average
participation of 15 members from very diverse backgrounds. They announce
chapter news through a weekly email along with other resources, websites, and
videos submitted by members to further their knowledge and understanding of
mood disorders. Facilitators advocate for individuals in crisis, helping them
obtain needed services including crisis hotlines, hospitalization, and
referrals to doctors or clinics.
Leaders are also involved in the state
organization DBSA Oklahoma with the goal of doubling the number of support
groups in their state. To further these goals they make 10 presentations each
month on the importance of DBSA peer support groups in sustaining long-term
recovery. These presentations reach clients at mental health facilities and
inmates at state prisons. “It is our goal to keep DBSA Norman a dynamic,
growing group, beneficial to all who attend, and to increase DBSA’s presence in
Oklahoma. It is gratifying to watch members grow and know that DBSA Norman has
been a part of their recovery, just as it has been a part of ours.”
DBSA Murfreesboro (TN) - 2013 Rookie Chapter Service Award
DBSA Murfreesboro began in July of 2013 with
support from DBSA Tennessee. The chapter started out with one support group,
which saw its attendance double in fewer than six months, becoming one of the
fastest growing local chapters in the state. The growth of the chapter can be
attributed to the forces behind it that work tirelessly to get the word out
about the group. Flyers and pamphlets are distributed to agencies and health
care providers, the Salvation Army, local hospitals and businesses, and more.
DBSA Murfreesboro provides post-hospitalization support for those who would otherwise
have none. Educational materials, resources, and wellness tools are provided to
each chapter participant. They have also started a family and friends support
Members of DBSA Murfreesboro participated in the state chapter meetings
and contributed to grassroots advocacy efforts. The chapter also enlisted the backing of their U.S. Representative. For a chapter that achieved all of this in six months, DBSA Murfreesboro has a fine resume of accomplishments, but
they consider their greatest success to be the level of support offered
to each person who walks through their doors.
Leslie Davis of DBSA Rockland County (NY) and DBSA New York - 2013 Outstanding Leadership Award
Leslie helped bring about many developments for the
chapter in 2013. As a regular facilitator for support groups, she helps mediate
tough situations. She takes calls daily from people wanting to learn about mood
disorders and speaks with people in crisis to help them get through difficult
situations. She also spearheaded the chapter’s annual fund drive which raised
more than $2,200.
Leslie is the co-president of the Mental Health Coalition
(MHC) of Rockland County where she represents and advocates for DBSA Rockland
County while educating the community about mental health. She is the first
consumer to be elected co-president of the MHC of Rockland, which is a tribute
to the great respect she has gained in the local mental health community.
Leslie is also active on the state level. As vice-president of DBSA New York,
she reached out to several other chapters in the state to learn about how they
operate, help them get more focused and organized, and to be better advocates
for people who have mood disorders. Her sound advice and strong leadership will
continue to expand awareness and opportunities for helping people to give and
get support through the efforts of DBSA.
Steve Brannon of DBSA Jackson (TN) and DBSA Tennessee - 2013 Outstanding Leadership Award
Steve is an excellent role model for pursuing a wellness-focused
life while living with a mood disorder. He fights stigma by openly sharing his
journey in the local newspaper, on DBSA’s website, and on his weekly online
newsletter. He has worked with the local police department to help educate and
train police officers for crisis response teams. Steve was selected for DBSA
Peer Advocacy Training and was a representative of DBSA for Hill Day in
At his local chapter, DBSA Jackson (TN), Steve gently
encourages, trusts, and believes in support group participants. He instituted a
monthly “share your inspiration” night in which group members report on what
keeps them going, creating an environment of hope and personal growth. Steve is
dedicated to further advancing DBSA’s mission into surrounding communities and
across the state. The number of support groups has doubled in the past year
under his direction, encompassing all major cities and some smaller cities
across the state. He has traveled hundreds of miles at his own expense to
conduct local chapter visitations as state director. Steve’s passion for the
advancement of DBSA’s mission in Jackson and the state of Tennessee is so
strong that he has diligently dedicated his time and resources for over a
DBSA Self Help Center (MO)
DBSA Self Help Center, 2012 Large Chapter Service Award winner, provides empowering opportunities for their members and excellent educational resources in their community. They launched an ongoing workshop featuring readings and discussions on recovery-based topics. Outreach through inpatient support groups provided hope to participants and a bridge to continued support after discharge. Chapter educational initiatives included partnerships with local universities to educate nursing students on recovery, a suicide prevention awareness booth at an area grocery store, and “Street Corner Fundraising” where members held up stigma-busting signs and accepted donations for the chapter. DBSA Self Help Center also empowered and supported the fundraising efforts of 27 participants to attend the statewide consumer conference.
DBSA Michiana (MI)
These actions also helped recruit new participants to the chapter and educate and heal our members on their road to recovery.
– Cindy F.
DBSA Michiana (MI) works hard to fight stigma and educate their community about suicide prevention. The chapter’s Community Awareness Committee (CAC) participates in a variety of health fairs and community events. Visitors to the chapter’s table receive a Mental Health Statistical Quiz, designed to combat stigma associated with mental health conditions. Chapter participants created display boards with items showcasing suicide prevention and awareness.
DBSA Michiana also printed a special issue newsletter pertaining to suicide which they distributed widely. The chapter planned a Suicide Awareness Walk to honor loved ones who have attempted or completed suicide. The money raised from the walk helped DBSA Michiana members attend Mental Health First Aid training and funded an educational seminar.
DBSA Chicago Loop (IL)
Developing leadership not only provides attendees the opportunity to take personal ownership and pride in their own wellness but also enables the chapter to expand its offering of programs and support to the community.
– Cheryl M.
Founded in July 2011, Rookie Chapter Service Award winner DBSA Chicago Loop has grown and prospered at an impressive rate. With weekly support group attendance growing over 300% in four months, the chapter developed a base of devoted participants who have taken an active role in the chapter’s success.
Chapter leaders encourage participants to share larger roles in the chapter’s success. This positive atmosphere has seen the self-development of new leaders who have initiated chapter book and movie clubs, trained as support group facilitators, and participated in advocacy programs.
Word of the success of the chapter quickly moved beyond the community of those living with a mood disorder, creating awareness among family members. As a result, DBSA Chicago Loop launched a weekly support group for family and friends. This support group provides family members and friends the opportunity to share their journey with those in similar life situations.
DBSA GLBT Chicago (IL)
We decided to step up our educational efforts to improve our members’ health.
– Bob K.
DBSA GLBT Chicago (IL), 2011 Small Chapter Service Award winner, may be a small group but their huge efforts deserve much recognition. The chapter serves individuals in Chicago’s GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender) community who live with a mood disorder.
After determining weight management to be an important concern amongst participants, DBSA GLBT Chicago hosted a workshop on nutrition, weight loss, and holistic wellness strategies. The speaker was a clinical psychologist with expertise on weight management for individuals who take psychiatric medications. With attendees from the chapter and the local community, the workshop was the chapter’s most successful event to date. In 2012 they followed up with an expert panel on sleep health, another frequently discussed topic at the support group.
The chapter helps participants keep in touch with news about mood disorders and other mental health topics by sharing the latest information on their website. The continuously updated list of current news articles from around the Web has become a valued resource for group participants. The chapter also offers a lending library with a collection of materials relating to mood disorders, health issues, and GLBT topics.
DBSA Northridge (CA)
We represent empathy, sensitivity, compassion, and non-judgmental feelings. Our participants want to make this world a better place.
– Jeff F.
DBSA Northridge, 2011 Large Chapter Service Award Winner, has a lot to be proud of! The chapter has achieved a high level of recognition in their community and is regularly sought out by local and international media. DBSA Northridge also operates a blog that shares participants’ mental health recovery stories and struggles. The purpose of the blog is to create a greater sense of community among existing members and to reach out to potentialmembers, whose only exposure to the group is the internet.
DBSA Northridge hosts educational speaker events on topics such as disability benefits and choosing a health care provider. They also invite psychologists and clinicians to provide information about treatment options. The chapter offers a collection of free literature and a growing lending library.
Participants have many opportunities to get involved, including frequent facilitator trainings and committees focused on identifying new speakers and planning social events. As a result DBSA Northridge has a calendar full of events and a diverse group of facilitators committed to bringing DBSA support groups to even more individuals in the community.