Start a Chapter in Your Community

Nationwide, independent affiliate chapters of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance offer nearly 650 peer-run support groups. All groups are peer-facilitated and provide people living with depression and bipolar disorder the opportunity to find comfort and direction in a confidential and supportive setting. Services offered differ by chapter and depend on the needs of the community. Though all chapters must offer at least one free, open-to-the-public support group, chapters often also develop other initiatives, including educational programs, newsletters, lending libraries, and advocacy projects.

Benefits of Starting a DBSA Support Group

  • Create a forum for mutual acceptance, understanding, and self-discovery. 
  • Offer an opportunity to reach out to others and benefit from the experience of those who have been there.
  • Help others understand that a mood disorder does not define who they are.
  • Motivate attendees to follow wellness plans.
  • Create a group that can make a difference in your community and maybe even save a life.
  • Offer the consumer’s perspective to legislators and the local medical community.
  • Remind yourself and others that recovery is possible! 

How We Help DBSA Chapters

  • Referrals to your community’s chapter and support groups via DBSA’s toll-free number and website
  • Regular informational communications filled with resources and ideas for chapter growth and improvement
  • Tips for developing effective groups, including ways to expand and share leadership of the chapter via the Chapter Management website (Password protected for affiliated chapters only.)
  • Free or low-cost copies of select brochures and publications from DBSA’s stocked inventory
  • Leadership training opportunities through regional and national meetings, online learning tools, teleconferences, Chapter Leadership Forum, and other training possibilities
  • Chapter Awards programs for education, advocacy, and service to your area 
  • Access to all Chapter Leadership Guides to help the chapter succeed by providing tools, guidance, and references
  • Opportunities to connect with chapter leaders and facilitators from around the country to share successes and brainstorm solutions to difficulties
  • Use of the DBSA name and logo, which will identify your group as part of the nation’s leading patient-directed organization focusing on depression and bipolar disorder
  • Access to materials that promote the benefit of DBSA support groups in publications and the media
  • Assistance with and filing fees for incorporating your community’s chapter as a not-for-profit organization with tax-exempt status

What do I need to get started?

DBSA Start-Up Guide
The first step to beginning a group in your community is to complete the Chapter Start-Up Guide Request Form and submit it to DBSA. Prior to submitting this form, you may want to check to make sure there is not already a group in your area that you can work with. To check for an existing group, please visit our Chapter and Support Group Locator. Within three weeks of submitting your form, you will receive a DBSA Start-Up Guide. This guide includes the information and materials you will need to start a support group and DBSA chapter in your community. To receive the guide quicker, select the e-version. 

Support of Others
Don’t do it alone! Ask family and friends for help.

Meeting Space
Try to find a place that's easy to get to, accessible, confidential, and free, if at all possible.

Telephone Number/Email Address
Where can potential participants contact you?

Flyers, press releases, word-of-mouth, and letters to mental health providers (some samples are included in the DBSA Start-Up Guide) can help you get the word out and populate your chapter.

For additional information on starting a support group, contact the DBSA Chapter Relations Department at (800) 826-3632, x175 or via e-mail at