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DBSA Virtual Support Groups Catch Fire: Service Offering Doubled After Three Months

Peer Support Solutions is pleased to be a continuing service partner to the Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance’s efforts to help young people and their families.

The Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) has just announced a new initiative to expand the help they bring to young people and their families. Peer Support Solutions (PSS) powers the services that provide DBSA online peer groups and is executing this expansion. The groups are facilitated by Certified Peer Specialists and Recovery Coaches that PSS hires, trains, and manages. Participants log in, register, attend meetings, and receive follow up materials. During meetings they participate through purpose-built custom web conferencing services accessible via any device. Feedback from DBSA participants has been extremely favorable with 81% saying they felt more hopeful as a result of their involvement. The groups have been so popular that DBSA has more than doubled the number of meetings offered after just three months of service. In addition, the global reach of these groups has allowed DBSA to help individuals connecting from 52 countries.

Peer Support Solutions is a pioneer in virtual peer services. We have been offering web conference based peer support groups since late 2009 and one-on-one peer support since 2012. We are also launching text- and phone-based crisis intervention services. PSS provides services to large nonprofits and healthcare organizations. Studies show that virtual services are as effective as in-person, but with much better convenience, accessibility, and comfort for participants. And for health care companies, savings are realized from better self-care and reduced use of hospital and urgent care services. For further information, please contact Vince Caimano, vcaimano@peersupportsolutions.com 818 430-3414.

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New DBSA Programs Support Youngest Peers

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future. –Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Preparing young people for a bright future when they live with a mental health condition is a challenge our entire nation must meet. Almost half of all US youth age 13-18 have experienced a mental health condition and of this group, one in five have or will have a seriously debilitating disorder. Eight to ten years will pass, on average, between the first onset of symptoms and treatment when research tells us that early engagement and support are critical to recovery.

DBSA is confronting this challenge by expanding its programming to serve peers from childhood through the teen years to the transition to young adulthood and beyond. Now, wherever you may be in your journey, DBSA will be there to help. Our new resources are designed to help our youngest peers toward the educational and social success they want and deserve while dealing with difficult symptoms. There are also resources for parents that can assist them in navigating the often bewildering experience of parenting a child living with a mood disorder.

Parents of newly diagnosed children are often disoriented because of a flood of unfamiliar information and are unsure of their next steps. To bridge this information/understanding gap, DBSA has published a new brochure, Getting Started. It offers accurate information on mood disorders and treatments, the value of peer support, how to assemble a medical team, what to say to a child about their condition, plus tips on nurturing the whole family. There is also a new online support group created especially for parents, friends, and family members which follows the same format as DBSA’s in-person groups.

The Balanced Mind Parent Network is an especially valuable resource for parents. This active  community comprises, in part, 10 online groups of parents of children with mood disorders who together share experiences, exchange information, and offer support. The Network also provides parents, teens, and educators with educational resources for childhood mood disorders, and invites them to ask questions through our Helpline and search for mental health professionals or facilities.

“BMPN is an incredible community,” says Angie Day, DBSA’s chapter and volunteer services manager. “Many families living with a pediatric mood disorder may feel isolated. BMPN gives parents the opportunity to come together and know that they are not alone.”

BMPN recently expanded its activities by participating in a study about children and mood disorder medications. They offered researchers a real-life, boots-on-the-ground perspective on various aspects of day-to-day living with a child who has a mood disorder. Read more.

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 with mood disorders face unique challenges as they transition from high school to entering the workforce or college to starting a career and/or a family of their own. DBSA recently created two new online support groups for them where they can reach out to each other and share wellness strategies. The DBSA Young Adult Council assists DBSA in outreach to young people and helps develop specialized programming for this age group. If you are 18 to 29 and interested in joining the Council, contact YACmembership@DBSAlliance.org for more information.

DBSA is committed to learning about and sharing the perceptions and experiences of young adult peers through our Survey Center. In November 2014, we reported the results of a survey that collected feedback from young adults and their parents on issues of greatest importance to this age group. The results are being used to prioritize future programming. Read survey results summary (PDF).

Our newest program for young people is under development by our Young Adult Council. Called Living Proof, it targets teenagers with mood disorders. Council members are creating video testimonials that speak to the realities of life with a mental health condition and the fact that life can nevertheless be rewarding and successful. Living Proof will launch this fall.

Young people, as is often said, are our greatest resource. Providing our youngest peers with the support they and their families need, then, is of critical importance—our society sorely needs their energy, compassion, insight, and the contributions that only they can make. DBSA stands ready to help them now and throughout their lives.

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