Time to talk about mental health: Grassroots help with mood disorders

Published 9:52 am Thursday, May 26, 2022

By Glenda Smith

For the Enterprise

Last week, information about two national mental health organizations, Mental Health America and National Alliance on Mental Illness was presented.  This week features  two more national organizations:  DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) and EA (Emotions Anonymous).      

DBSA’s mission is to provide hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people with mood disorders. DBSA is a grassroots organization that originated in Chicago in 1978 as an informal support by two women, Marilyn Weiss and Rose Kurlan. Their psychiatrist, Dr. Jan Fawcett, had suggested that they meet with others to share their experiences. Those meetings began in their homes. The original name of the group was MDA (Manic Depressive Disorder), and there were a few more names before the name of DBSA today.

According to the DBSA website, www.dbsalliance.org, mood disorders (including depression and bipolar disorder) affect over 21 million Americans and account for over  50% of the nation’s suicides every year.  Financially, these mood disorders cost $23 billion in lost workdays and other workplace losses.

The local chapter of DBSA, Winston-Salem, began in 2003. It offers free weekly peer-run support groups for individuals 18 and older who are living with a mood disorder. Friends, family, and caregivers are welcome at meetings. For information on local meetings contact Mary Potter at rcmp03@triad.rr.com or 336-945-4894.  It is recommended to check with a group contact prior to attending a first meeting.

DBSA offers thesw national online support groups: general, friends and family, dual diagnosis, military veterans, female minority veterans, young adults, and black community mental health. DBSA’s website provides education, newsletters, resources for children and adults, tools, stories, and more. bp Magazine is an award-winning free on-line mental health magazine for people living with bipolar disorder.  Parents and caregivers may also benefit from reading the articles. If interested in receiving this resource free of charge, visit www.bphope.com to. A library of past articles is available.

DBSA’s Balanced Mind Parent Network (BMPN) is an online family-focused community created to guide parents or caregivers of children (under 26) with a mood disorder diagnosis to the answers, support, and stability they seek. There is 24/7 access to information and support by visiting www.community.dbsalliance.org.  Membership for this network costs $5 monthly.

Founded in 1971, the second mental health organization is EA (Emotions Anonymous), an internationally affiliated non-profit that has helped people improve their emotional well-being for 50+ years. Its headquarters is in Minnesota. EA was formed by a group of individuals who found a new way of life by adapting the Twelve-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous to work for people with emotional problems. EA is a spiritual, not a religious, program of recovery. EA’s website, www.emotionsanonymous.org, has a downloadable pamphlet, “What is EA?” and more.

EA peer support groups in the Triad are for people who are seeking recovery from their emotional difficulties and are striving to live more manageable  lives.  Meetings stress self-worth, self-knowledge and self-care.  The goal is to help individuals achieve and maintain good emotional health.  Safety, anonymity, acceptance and respect are stressed.

Pre-Covid, support group meetings were being held in-person at 3 Triad locations: Winston-Salem, High Point, and Greensboro. To find out what is happening email TriadEA@email.com or visit www.triadea.org.  As of 2017 there were approximately 300 Emotions Anonymous groups in the U.S. and another 300 around the world.  Since many EA mental health peer support groups are meeting virtually, participation in national and international groups may be possible.  Check with a group contact prior to attending a first meeting.