With so many of us still sheltering in place, finding online mental health support is more important than ever. Did you know that DBSA has more than doubled the number of national support groups you can join from anywhere in the country?

We now offer 12 weekly support groups hosted by Support Groups Central (SGC). Each virtual meeting has room for up to 50 participants that are then divided into smaller groups so everyone has the chance to share experiences and feel connected. We’ve also added a support group just for seniors, offered in English and Spanish.

Here are a few helpful tips that we hope will encourage you to try out our online support groups. 

How do I get started?

Your first step is to register for support group meetings through the SGC website, which takes around 2 minutes. 

Once you have set up your free account, you will see a box labeled My Favorites. Click on Find Organizations to see all DBSA support groups and choose the ones that interest you. 

Signing up for your first meeting is easy. Just click on the day and time that works best for you. If the support group you want to attend is full, you can ask to join the waiting list. SGC will automatically add you to the group when a seat opens up and notify you by email. Later on, if you find out that you can’t make it, you can pass your seat along to the next person on the waiting list.

What will my first meeting be like?

If you’ve never been to a support group meeting before, you may wonder what to expect. It’s helpful to know that SGC support groups are led by Certified Peer Support Specialists who are there to guide the conversation and help you feel welcome, comfortable, and safe. These trained specialists have firsthand experience with mood disorders, so they understand what it takes to maintain wellness – especially in stressful times like these. 

“Our group leader was wonderful,” a recent participant said. “He engaged people, redirected questions, shared helpful experiences, and made great use of our time.”

 “It was so helpful to hear what other people like me were going through and the ways they’re coping,” another participant said. 

Do I have to share?

Support groups create a safe space where you can speak freely. Of course, if you’re a natural listener, you may prefer to share less. Group guidelines set the groundwork for sharing so that each person has an opportunity to talk if they wish. You can choose your level of participation based on what feels comfortable to you. Choosing not to share is fine, too.

How far ahead of time can I sign up?

You can register for support group meetings up to 7 days in advance. If you find you need to cancel, no problem. Please use the link in your confirmation email to pass your seat to the next person on the waiting list.

Canceling your reservation when you can’t attend is especially important right now, since waiting lists are longer than usual. We appreciate your cooperation in helping us accommodate as many people as possible.

How does the standby room work?

Sometimes, there are empty seats at the beginning of a support group meeting, so SGC has created a virtual waiting room you can enter 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. If there’s a space open, the group leader may invite you into the meeting. 

Where can I learn more?

If you have questions, check out the helpful videos on the SGC website