Volunteer Profiles

DBSA celebrates peer support champions during Mental Health Month 2017!

Michael—Chapter Volunteer

Michael has volunteered with the DBSA South Florida Chapter for a little over two years. He serves a peer support group facilitator and an officer on their Board of Directors. As a peer living with bipolar disorder, Michael first saw DBSA as a place to seek help and quickly “felt the appeal to help others as well.” After only three months as a support group participant, Michael became a facilitator.  He enjoys his role and notes that the best part is, “the comradery … being able to connect with people productively.” He states, “It’s an environment where I am accepted, help others feel warmly accepted, and find friendships. Our groups are the farthest thing from a pity party; rather, we strive to ‘stay in the solution.’ At the same time, we offer a lot of empathy, compassion, and understanding to build trust, providing a springboard to help people improve their lives.”

During his time as a volunteer, Michael is most proud of completing attaining 501c3 status, which allows his chapter to collect tax deductible donations. This allows for revenue growth, and thereby gives the chapter the opportunity to help individuals affected by mood disorders. His primary drive is the high value he holds for completeness. He explains that he has a desire to completely manage his mental health; and that “For me, that is only complete once I ‘pay it forward’ and support others in kind. I value both making an impact in my own life and in those of others.”

Michael is proud and excited by the work he does with DBSA South Florida. He shares the following advice for any current or prospective chapter volunteers:

  • “Take the training for the chapters on the website. Look first over the Facilitator Guide, and then watch the Facilitator Training Video.
  • Work together past personal differences and difficulties, for the good of the whole chapter. Remember, everyone here is dealing with their own version of a mood disorder.  We all value our chapter and have its best interests at heart.” 
  • Finally, know that your volunteer work with DBSA could well lead to permanent employment. Note: Michael now works as a Certified Peer Specialist for MHA of Palm Beach County.

To learn more about finding or starting a chapter and support group in your area, go to DBSAlliance.org/findsupport. 

Coleen—Helpline Volunteer

Coleen has volunteered with DBSA’s Helpline, an information and resource line and email resource, for one year. In her role, Coleen responds to emails and phone calls from individuals seeking information and resources regarding depression or bipolar disorder. She states, “I volunteer with the Helpline because it is flexible and a way to use my experience to help others, to give hope to people who are struggling.” Her motivation is to help individuals living with bipolar disorder who are on their journey to wellness. Coleen shared that she is most proud of being able to find resources for individual who thought that she had exhausted all that was available to her, and would want others know that the helpline is a good way to volunteer due to its flexibility.

To learn more about volunteering with DBSA’s Helpline, go to: http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_eupdate_2016_july#3

Mindy—BMPN Volunteer

Mindy is entering her sixth year as a volunteer moderator for DBSA’s Balanced Mind Parent Network (BMPN), an online community of support and education for parents who have a child living with a mood disorder. She shares why she chooses to volunteer with this program, “The Balanced Mind is a unique community.  My feelings about volunteering for DBSA/Balance Mind are so personal.   When I came to the organization as a member I found immediate support and community. There was always someone who was awake and available to answer an anxious question, offer support or brainstorm the next step.  The organization is so worthwhile I wanted give back all that I had gotten.”

Mindy is motivated by her want to help others, ability to use her research skills, and to support DBSA’s (and BMPN’s) mission. She notes that the best part of her role as a volunteer is to help families find hope when they believe there is no reason for it.  She is incredibly proud of the online community that she co-moderates, “It is such a warm group of parents who genuinely like each other and want to help each other. The support community is judgement free. People come to the group wanting to be supported. But they ended up supporting others too.  Our group truly has a community feel.  And I am very proud of that.”  

For Mindy, her volunteer role has created change for her both personally and professionally and would give the following advice to other parents, “seek the parent to parent peer support that you need to be able to help your child.  Being in a community is a form of practicing self-care.”   She also encourages individuals who would like to volunteer to, “not to hesitate because you get so much more than you give.” 

To learn more about DBSA’s Balanced Mind Parent Network, go to: DBSAlliance.org/BMPN