Where to Start: Mental Health in a Changing World

As DBSA approaches 40 years of providing hope, help, support, and education to those living with mood disorders and their loved ones, we are reflecting on our deep roots in peer support. While our country faces a dire shortage of accessible and affordable mental health care and services, we see peer support as a vital solution to bridging the gap and helping peers to find community, find wellness, and find hope.

We need your help to raise awareness, expand peer support groups, and give individuals the power to use their lived experience to bridge the gap in accessible and affordable healthcare with a gift today.

What Is Peer Support?

Peer support is when people use their own firsthand experiences to help others facing similar challenges. At DBSA and among the wider mental health and substance use communities, peer support refers to individuals living in wellness after facing their own issues with mood disorders, trauma, or substance use, who have received professional training to support others living with similar challenges.

These dedicated individuals draw from their own experiences to offer a unique perspective and a depth of empathy that traditional approaches often lack. Through their guidance and mentorship, they serve as beacons of hope, guiding others toward the light of recovery.

While we believe wholeheartedly in the tangible benefits of peer support, research* also underscores the profound impact of peer support on mental well-being, including increasing individuals’ sense of hope, happiness, control, self-esteem, community, and decreasing levels of depression and psychosis.

Peer support among individuals living with mood disorders has been shown* to:

  • Reduce hospitalization rates
  • Reduce days spent in inpatient care
  • Reduce the overall cost of mental health services
  • Increase the use of outpatient services
  • Increase quality of life outcomes
  • Increase engagement rates
  • Increase whole health

As the evidence mounts, affirming the efficacy of peer support across diverse demographics, the importance of this paradigm becomes increasingly evident. Peer support isn’t merely a concept; it’s a lifeline, offering sanctuary amidst the storm and guiding individuals to community, wellness, and hope.

Our Roots in Peer Support

In the spring of 1978, DBSA co-founder Rose Kurland began her search for support and healing after being hospitalized for depression. Unable to find existing self-help support groups for people living with mood disorders, she started her own support group in her living room. Driven by the belief in the transformative power of community and self-directed wellness plans, Rose laid the roots for what would become DBSA. More than four decades later, DBSA remains as committed as ever to peer support, which we see as the bridge connecting individuals to community, wellness, and hope.

Find Community

DBSA support groups give people living with depression and bipolar disorder a safe, welcoming place to share experiences, discuss coping skills, and offer each other hope.

Find An In-Person Support Group

Join An Online Support Group

Cultural and Identity Support Groups

Find support from others living with depression or bipolar disorder in one of DBSA’s online or in-person identity-focused support groups. Designed to be welcoming and supportive spaces, these groups offer participants the chance to discuss shared experiences and find community with others walking a similar path to wellness.

DBSA’s Online Support Groups

Parent and Caregivers Support Groups

When your child is first diagnosed with a mood disorder, there can be so many questions and concerns to deal with. Finding support for yourself is an important part of caregiving. Whether your children are under 18 or older, DBSA’s online support groups can connect you with parents throughout the country going through similar experiences.

For Parents and Caregivers

DBSA Chapters

Individuals attending groups and participating in their local chapters will meet community members who can relate to each other’s experiences. In addition to this, many of DBSA’s chapters also offer educational events, newsletters, lending libraries, and special events to serve their communities.

See DBSA Chapters in Action!

Find Wellness

Treatment Options
When you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of a mood disorder, especially for the first time, it can be helpful to know what your treatment options are. In this newly updated section, you can find information on finding treatment, working with your provider, managing medications, and making the best decisions for your wellness.

Treatment Options

Wellness Wheel
The DBSA Wellness Wheel is an easy-to-use free tool that gives you a picture of what wellness looks like for you. As you create your own wheel, you will see your strengths in perspective and discover ways to move toward the life you want to live. Check out DBSA Wellness Wheel resources and in honor of Mental Health Awareness month complete your own Wellness Wheel.

Wellness Wheel

Wellness Tracker
The DBSA Wellness Tracker is a useful tool to help you monitor your mood, symptoms, medications, nutrition, and other lifestyle measures to see what impacts your wellness. This free tool is customizable to track as little or as much as you like by downloading each sheet separately or completing the whole workbook. Especially if you are working with a doctor or therapist, using the DBSA Wellness Tracker can help you see progress and growth over time.

Wellness Tracker

Find Hope

Living with depression or bipolar can make you feel isolated and lonely. When symptoms are at their worst it can feel like no one else understands what you’re going through. Finding hope can be challenging but know that you are not alone. Hearing from other peers can provide just the inspiration you need to keep moving forward on your wellness journey.

Life Unlimited

Read empowering stories of individuals whose lives have been touched, but not limited by, a mood disorder. Our hope is to provide inspiration to individuals living with depression or bipolar disorder—to acknowledge that, though there may be dark times, there is also hope, and we are not alone.

Learn More

I’m Living Proof

When you live with depression or bipolar disorder, having a fulfilling, happy life can sometimes feel out of reach. It’s not. Listen to stories from real people who have struggled with a mood disorder and still found a way to live the lives they want to lead. Wellness is possible for everyone; They’re living proof.

Learn More

Invest In DBSA’s Roots; Invest in Peer Support

Peer support isn’t merely a concept; it’s a lifeline, offering roots to individuals amidst storms and guiding individuals towards community, wellness, and hope. Your gift will help to reduce hospitalization rates and the cost of mental health care, while increasing quality of life and engagement rates among individuals living with a mood disorder.

Improve Lives Now!