Find a Support Group Near You
There is a stigma associated with having bipolar disorder. There’s no denying it. Glenn Close and others are working to fight it, and I thank them.
If you’re a brave leader in fighting stigma, like Kay Redfield Jameson, I congratulate you and invite you to share your experience in the comments. You may just inspire another to go public with their bipolar disorder. If all 2%+ of us came forward, the stigma would have to end because there are just too many of us to marginalize.
Whether you’ve gone public or not, you know it’s hard to find people who understand your experience.
That’s where bipolar disorder support groups come in, regardless of where on the spectrum your diagnosis falls.
Perhaps the most available support groups in the U.S. and Canada are sponsored by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). I have attended their support group meetings myself and found them welcoming to all comers and full of understanding people. DBSA also has online chat rooms.
Got to www.dbsa.org or call 1-800-826-3632 to find one near you.
The most well-known advocacy group for people with mental illnesses (and their families) is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It’s a grassroots U.S. organization. NAMI is dedicated to the eradication of mental illness and to improving the quality of life for those affected by mental illness. In addition to support groups, they offer a helpline, educational programs, and online chat rooms.
Find the Light Online Support Group is for people who have mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or substance abuse issues. A study in 2015 found that people who were later diagnosed with bipolar disorder had much higher rates of anxiety disorders than average. And it’s been long known that people with bipolar disorder suffer from substance abuse disorders at a much higher rate than average. So, those three disorders may be more related than your realize. Find the Light provides private online peer support to adults at www.findthelight.net.
Mental Health America (MHA) has been dedicated to mental health advocacy and support for the last century. Their website at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/ is filled with information about mental health services and local support groups. You can also call them at 1-800-969-6642.
In Canada, check out the Mood Disorders Society of Canada (www.mooddisorderscanada.ca), the Organization for Bipolar Affective Disorder (www.obad.ca), the Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia (www.mdabc.com), and the Canadian Mental Health Association (www.cmha.ca).
Consider calling your local hospital for a list of support groups in your area. Another place to check is with any nonprofits in your local area that are dedicated to helping with mood disorders or depression. Finally, some individual therapists who see patients with bipolar and other serious disorders maintain lists of support groups for their clients and will be happy to share those lists with you.