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Researchers and peer leaders explore holistic approaches

April 22, 2012
by Steve Bell
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Peer-led support groups: A force for wellness

Allen Doderlen, President of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) , Lucinda Jewel, Board Chair and Christy Beckman, Treasurer recently attended the 5th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders in Istanbul, Turkey (March 14-17, 2012).  They were invited speakers at a meeting attended by 900 participants from 53 different countries. The ISBD is the premier global research and advocacy organization on bipolar disorders.  

"Peer support is inherently driven by and responsive to the needs of diverse populations at the local level, so we presented on best practices DBSA has learned in its 25 years of fostering community engagement through support groups." said Doderlein.    He and his American colleagues were part of a panel discussion that included Dr. Manuel Sanchez de Carmona of Mexico and Turkish peer advocate Tezer Orhan.  While in Istanbul, Doderlein, Jewel and Beckman also had opportunities to meet with Turkish peers to break bread and share information beyond the walls of the event center.   During the conference they made a power-point  presentation on the DBSA model of peer-led support groups.  Here is  one page from that presentation:

  • Value  people living with mood disorders:  The conditions are not who we are but how we temporarily feel even as they have shaped and influenced our lives.
  • Validate  no matter how we feel, we matter and make a difference in the world.
  • Invest  in the quality of any wellness issue as a single community- partners in mental health and well-being.
  • Worldwide  it will take continued political will for holistic approaches to mental health management to become standard. 

As a person in recovery and a DBSA participant for the past 10 years, I  have met with and felt an instant connection to peers around the USA who understand both the challenges and opportunties persons with mood disorders face on a daily basis.  In this country, diverse , peer-controlled and driven support groups (whether they use the DBSA or other program models)  gather  weekly to learn from one another about recovery and advocacy.  I find it very exciting to know that 'the power of peers' is reaching beyond our borders and we can be inspired by our brothers and sisters around the world. 


Steve Bell

Peer-Provider and Advocate

Steve Bell

Steve Bell is the co-founder and executive director of  BrainStorm Career Services, a consumer-...

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