Peer to Peer

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living with mood disorders. DBSA Palo Alto is a peer-led affiliate chapter offering support to members in the San Francisco Bay Area. We follow the meeting guidelines of the national organization. Our membership and leadership are composed of those living with depression, bipolar illness, anxiety and other related mood disorders. We are all peers and contribute to the effectiveness of our support group meetings from our own experiences.

Click here to print out the Meeting Guidelines we read at the beginning of our support group meetings.


We welcome and encourage our members and participants to share from their own experiences, feelings and coping strategies. We focus on self-help and self-responsibility trusting each individual’s capacity to make their own decisions on what is shared in our meetings. Our goal is to make our members comfortable about sharing or not sharing according to their own needs and situation.


We provide a safe place to share about ourselves and our concerns. It is the responsibility of all members to keep confidential everything that is shared in the group. We are anonymous and don’t reveal information that is shared in our meetings with anyone outside the meeting. The only exception is when an individual’s safety is at stake. We do not share membership information with anyone. There is no membership requirement to participate in our groups.


We are all equals and share from our own experiences. We are not professionals in the mental health field and we do not diagnose, prescribe or give medical advice. Our groups are not a substitute for professional care. We are not a therapy group. We are not a 12-step group. We share from our personal experiences as they relate to what is being discussed.


We value the contributions of all of our members and encourage the use of specific communication techniques. We speak one at a time and address the group. We “share the air” and limit our comments so there is time for all to contribute. We do not allow “crosstalk” or side conversations during meetings. We encourage the use of “I” language. We recognize that some of us don’t want to share in our groups and welcome those who want to keep silent.


We provide a supportive environment in our group meetings. We encourage free expression of varying opinions. We maintain courtesy, empathy and respect for all at all times. Our goal is to reassure our members that they are not alone and encourage them to reach out to each other and continue connecting between meetings.


We welcome discussion of all issues and questions relating to our members’ illnesses and concerns. We make two exceptions to this blanket acceptance. We do not discuss medications by name. Each individuals’ needs are unique and can only be addressed by their medical team. We will share our experiences with specific medications outside the group. We also don’t discuss mental health practitioners by name. When someone needs help with finding a doctor, therapist or other medical provider we will make our suggestions privately, outside the group meeting. We do not endorse or promote any products or services as an organization.

Chapter Medical Advisor

Po W. Wang, MD is our DBSA chapter’s medical advisor. Dr. Wang is Clinical Associate Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Science – Psychopharmacology at the Stanford Bipolar Disorders Clinic. Dr. Wang addresses our group every quarter to keep us up to date on the latest developments in his field. At these speaker meetings he answers our questions on all aspects of our mood disorders. He is especially qualified to handle questions about medications.