DBSA South Bay Support Group

                           Meeting Guidelines

                                      “We’ve been there.  We can help.”

The mission of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is to provide hope and support to help improve the lives of people living with mood disorders.  One way this is accomplished is through DBSA group meetings.  These meetings provide peer-based, recovery-oriented support and resources.

For this group to be effective, we follow these guidelines:

1)  Share the Air.  Everyone who wishes to share has an opportunity to do so. No one person should monopolize the group time.

2)  One person speaks at a time.  Each person should be allowed to speak free from interruptions and side conversations.

3)  What is said here stays here.  This is the essential principle of confidentiality, and MUST be respected by all.

4)  Differences of opinion are OK.  We are ALL entitled to our own point of view.

5)  We are all equal.  We accept cultural, linguistic, social and racial differences and promote their acceptance.

6)  Use "l" language.  Because we do not participate in discussion groups as credentialed professionals, NO ONE CAN INSTRUCT.  We, however, do share from our own personal experiences.  We are unique individuals, and only we know what is best for our own health (along with our doctor's recommendations) Example: "ln my experience, I have found this  to be helpful."

7)  It’s OK not to share.  People do not have to share if they do not wish to.  Much can be gained by just listening.

8)  It’s everyone's responsibility to make the discussion groups a safe place to share. Respect confidentiality, treat each other with respect and kindness, and show compassion.

9)  Please don’t use profanity, and turn off your cell phone.

10)  These guidelines must be followed in any and all interactions and communications between and among all group members, regardless of the activity or location.


DBSA Torrance

South Bay Chapter

                                                                      CODE OF ETHICS

Statement of Core Values
Our Vision
DBSA South Bay (Torrance) envisions wellness for people living with depression and bipolar disorder.

Our Mission
DBSA South Bay (Torrance) provides hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people who have mood disorders.

Our Values
1. Community—DBSA South Bay (Torrance) creates the opportunity for meaningful lives by compassionately engaging with individuals and providing peer-led support groups, educational materials, and wellness tools that focus on resiliency, achievement, creativity, and connection.

2. Inspiration—DBSA South Bay (Torrance) celebrates peers’ accomplishments, including those of the many talented, successful individuals recognized by the public for their contributions to the world.

3. Wisdom—DBSA South Bay (Torrance) advances learning through research and experience while promoting a transformative understanding of mental health through wide, timely dissemination of information about the latest treatments, wellness practices, and lived experiences.

4. Responsibility—DBSA South Bay (Torrance) advocates for the right of peers to choose their own paths to mental, emotional, and physical wellness while promoting structures and practices that advance whole health and accessible care for everyone.

Guiding Principles
1. Believe that every individual has strengths and the ability to learn and grow.
2. Respect the rights and dignity of others.
3. Protect the privacy and confidentiality of chapter participants.
4. Never intimidate, threaten, or harass. Never use undue influence, physical force, or verbal abuse. Never make unwarranted promises of benefits.
5. Do not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate in any form of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, marital status, political belief, or mental or physical disability.
6. Display honesty and integrity.
7. Abide by federal, state, and local laws.
8. Do not use the chapter or board for your own personal gain or interests.
9. Be accountable.

Information and Resources:
Scott Wood, President, woodscott516@yahoo.com, cell & text:  310-497-8801
Dawn Beigel, Treasurer, dawnbeigel@aol.com, cell & text: 310-351-4164
Barbie Johnson, Secretary, barbiejohnson@pacbell.net, cell & text: 310-293-9185



DBSA South Bay is committed to the health and safety of all of our participants. This Crisis Response Policy was created to help facilitators navigate situations where health and safety are at risk. Support group participants should be familiar with these policies as well.

Support Group Participant Who is Considering Suicide
Peers living with depression and bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of death by suicide. In order to effectively support our peers, DBSA South Bay provides a safe space where support group participants can freely discuss their feelings, including suicidal thoughts (also known as suicidal ideation). Because a discussion of suicide can be very distressing to some, participants who are uncomfortable should feel free to step out. Facilitators can assist by pausing the discussion and give people the opportunity. A simple statement such as the following should suffice: “I would like to continue to discuss this important and serious topic, but I want to give people who are uncomfortable with it the opportunity to excuse themselves.”

Warning signs that someone may be considering suicide:
* Unbearable feelings of hopelessness or despair
* Making final plans such as preparing wills
* Discussing specific suicide methods
* Substance use
* Sudden sense of calm

If a participant is displaying some or all of the symptoms above, it is important to remain calm while you discuss the possibility that they are experiencing suicidal ideation. Express concern for the individual and do not pass judgement on their feelings. Directly ask the following questions to determine the severity of the situation:

* Do you have a suicide plan?
* Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)?
* Do you know when you would do it?
* Do you intend to end your own life?

If their responses indicate that they are in immediate danger of harming themselves, it is time to call for help. Do not leave the individual alone. If they are willing to go, accompany them to a hospital. If they are unwilling to seek treatment and/or leaves the support group meeting alone, call emergency services. Notify the board of directors if you take either action.

If the participant is not in immediate danger, it is still important to ensure that they have continued support. Provide the participant with the “Suicide Prevention and Mood Disorders” brochure and have them complete a “Plan for Life” (before the end of the meeting if possible). Follow up with the participant within a week and note their attendance at future meetings. Notify the board of directors if you have any cause for alarm or feel uneasy.

Support Group Debriefing in the Event of a Suicide Attempt
A suicide attempt, regardless of whether it results in death or hospitalization, is a traumatic experience for everyone. It is helpful to take some time to process as a group if a fellow peer has made a suicide attempt. The following are key points to discuss during the first meeting the attempt is mentioned:
* Continue to take care of your own wellness
* Talk about what you are feeling with your support group, friends and family, or mental health professional
* Everyone processes or grieves differently and on varying timelines
* Don’t blame yourself or others

The peer who attempted suicide may choose to return to the group. While you should express your pleasure at their return, you must give them the space to decide whether or not they would like to discuss their experience in the meeting.

Note: Do not announce suicide attempts at support group meetings unless the peer has requested that you do so.

Violent or Threatening Support Group Participant
DBSA South Bay has a zero-tolerance policy in regards to violence or threats of violence.

Violence is defined as any behavior involving physical force consciously or unconsciously intended to hurt others or damage property. Any person who commits or threatens to commit acts of violence during chapter activities, including support group meetings and locations, will be asked to leave the premises immediately. If the participant refuses to comply, public safety officers will be notified. If the safety of other participants are at risk, the facilitator will dismiss the meeting.

Participants who are asked to leave for violent or threatening behavior will be automatic banned from future participation in chapter activities. No warnings will be given and no appeal requests will be granted. The participant will receive official notification in writing from the board of directors within one week. 

After one year’s absence, a banned participant who wishes to return to the support group may submit a written request to the board. In making its decision, the board will consider the progress the participant has made, the initial reason for the ban, and input from the chapter’s support group participants.



The DBSA Support Group Guidelines was created by the national office to ensure support group meetings are a safe place for peers to share. DBSA South Bay (Torrance) strives to meet those guidelines at all times.

When a participant violates the guidelines, it is a disruption to the functioning of the support group. Our facilitators are trained to redirect disruptive behavior. However, if a facilitator determines that the participant is unable or unwilling to follow their guidance, the facilitator may ask the participant to leave the support group for the remainder of the meeting.

If the board of directors receive reports from participants (including facilitators) of multiple instances of disruptive behavior from a particular individual, a verbal warning will be issued. A board member will speak with the individual either by phone or privately in person. The board member will provide the participant with the Disruptive Participant Policy which outlines the process the board will follow if their disruptive behavior continues to be an issue.

If, after the verbal warning, the board of directors continue to receive reports of disruptive behavior, a second warning will be issued. The board of directors will determine whether to issue another verbal warning or a written warning. The written warning is the last warning issued before the board votes to ban a participant from support group meetings.

If the board votes to ban a participant from attending support groups, he or she will be notified in writing.

Appeals Process
A banned participant may request a meeting to appeal the board’s decision. If a meeting is granted, the participant will have 10 minutes to state their case. The board’s final decision will be made in writing within two weeks.

One Year Review
After one year’s absence, a banned participant who wishes to return to the support group may submit a written request to the board of directors. In making its decision, the board will consider the progress the participant has made and the initial reason for the ban.

Violent and/or Threatening Behavior
The Disruptive Participant Policy does not apply to violent or threatening behavior. Such behavior is covered in our Crisis Response Policy.