The 7 Best Online Bipolar Disorder Support Groups of 2020

Find the right support group for your mental health

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: bphope.com

"They offer the latest news and inspiration from real people experiencing bipolar disorder."

Best for Variety: HealthfulChat

"HealthfulChat offers more than 40 chat rooms that allow you to have live conversations with other people."

Best for Live Chat: 7 Cups

"You can find support and friendship in chat rooms and forums where you can speak to people who are dealing with bipolar disorder."

Best for Scheduled Group Meetings: The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

"While most online support groups involve forums, DBSA offers regularly scheduled online meetings."

Most Personal: DailyStrength

"You can send any member a virtual hug by way of anything from a heart to a peace sign, along with a nice message of support."

Best for Education: The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI)

"NAMI offers classes and training for people living with mental illnesses, their families, community members, and professionals."

Most Intuitive: Psych Central

"There’s a reason this site has been around for 25 years and gets 6 million different visitors each month—it’s easy to use."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: bphope.com

bphope.com

bphope.com

bphope.com is the award-winning online community started by bp Magazine to increase awareness and to provide hope and empowerment for the bipolar community. That also includes those living with the disorder along with their families, caregivers, and health-care professionals.

The site includes the latest news, research, and educational information for building a healthy lifestyle. It encourages stress reduction, exercise, sleep, treatment, relationships, and employment. It is full of inspirational features and profiles of real people with bipolar disorder. 

According to one of their subscribers, “...bphope.com [is] another part of my support network—as important to me as my family, friends–or even my doctor!”

bphope.com is loaded with articles about symptoms and treatments. There is even an extensive section made just for kids, with a variety of blogs and educational videos. There is also a “Buzz” section with the latest news, inspiration from real people experiencing bipolar disorder (including celebrities), and recommendations of movies and books dealing with the issue.

Throughout bphope.com, there are plenty of blogs and vlogs posted by their team of individuals sharing their unique perspectives on living with bipolar disorder.

Everyone is encouraged to post comments and ask questions. Most of them can be found in the “Peer Support” section and the “Blog & Video” section. If you would like to contribute your own knowledge and expertise, you can even fill out an application to become a volunteer blogger for the site as well.

In the “Community” section of the website, you will also find links to four more support groups sponsored by bp Magazine via the Facebook network. These are called Bipolar Disorder Support Group, Support for Loved Ones of People Living with Bipolar, Bipolar Pet Lovers Support Group, and bphopeKIDS Parent Group.

If you can’t find exactly what you are looking for in the Blogs and Peer Support section, these additional groups are available for anyone who has a Facebook account.

Their educational content is combined with research, accounts of celebrities and other real people living with bipolar, as well as their variety of online support groups. All of this combined helps make them one of the most beneficial resources on the internet.

Best for Variety: HealthfulChat

HealthfulChat

HealthfulChat

HealthfulChat is an online, support community that combines the philosophy of medical attention combined with peer support in the case of illness, disorder, or condition, both physical and/or mental, helps to make the healing process more attainable.

The three main avenues offered by HealthfulChat to reach this goal are its health-related chat rooms, forums, and social networks. HealthfulChat provides information on an array of illnesses and conditions, including bipolar disorder. You can meet, share, and support individuals from around the world.

HealthfulChat offers more than 40 chat rooms that allow you to have live conversations with other people, with a specific one for individuals with bipolar disorder. To join, choose a nickname, and begin chatting 24 hours a day. Chat rooms are moderated by volunteers. 

The site also provides a fun escape when you want to get your mind off of what ails you. There are off-topic chat rooms where you can discuss anything from sports trivia to philosophy. 

HealthfulChat also has the philosophy of offering its services without the pressure of you having to pay a membership fee, so they rely heavily upon donations from those in their community who can afford to give. 

Best for Live Chat: 7 Cups

7 Cups

 7 Cups 

7 Cups is a website that provides therapy in the form of ongoing support, guidance, and counseling from over 150 licensed professional therapists.

This website differs from other popular online therapy sites in that it also offers free help from over 300,000 trained volunteer listeners as well. And, the site is even available as an app on your phone, so you won’t miss a message.

The site has created a whole community of people who understand you. You can find support and friendship in chat rooms and forums where they can speak to people who are dealing with similar issues, including bipolar disorder. In these group support sessions, you can ask for help, as well as share your own wisdom and experience to help others dealing with bipolar disorder.

7 Cups refers to itself as “The World’s Largest Emotional Support System.” The site reports helping over 25 million people worldwide with various forms of emotional distress. The site describes it as “a safe space for those struggling with bipolar disorder...to get support from others, to share their story and problems, and to connect to others who can relate or that just want to find out more.”

The site encourages you to join the online forums and to introduce yourself to everyone. You can check in daily and either share your story with friends, or simply let everyone know how you are feeling. There are plenty of specific forums like Bipolar Management and Bipolar Support and Bipolar, Schizophrenia, and Psychosis Support that might be able to help. There is even a weekly support session called Bipolar Support Room.

Their forums are not facilitated by a licensed mental health professional. But if you wish to meet with a therapist, they provide online counseling for around $150 per month. Online therapy allows you to send unlimited messages to your therapist.

You can also speak to a volunteer listener free of charge. They are available 24/7 to give emotional support over online chat. And, unlike the therapy services (which are only available for adults on this site), the listener support is available for anyone 13 and up.

Best for Scheduled Group Meetings: The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Formerly known as the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association, The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is a non-profit organization.

Their work includes outreach, education, and advocacy. But their main focus is on providing support groups for people with depression or bipolar disorder, as well as for their friends and family.

DBSA gets over 23 million hits per year on its websites. They distribute close to 20,000 educational materials every month free of charge to anyone requesting information about mood disorders. And, they reach nearly 5 million people through their various programs and activities.

Their website provides education, tools, peer support, and inspiring stories to help people with bipolar disorder pursue a path to wellness. You can search for a local chapter that will put you in touch with people in your community, and you can also join a local support group if one is available. 

While most online support groups involve forums, DBSA offers regularly-scheduled online meetings. They provide specific groups for “Friends and Family,” “Young Adults,” and “Caregivers,” as well as more general support groups for individuals with bipolar disorder. There is at least one group every day of the week, and sometimes there are more. 

The support group leaders are all peers, meaning they all know firsthand what it’s like to live with a mood disorder. They state their online support groups “give people living with depression and bipolar disorder a safe, welcoming place to share experiences, discuss coping skills, and offer each other hope.”

Most Personal: DailyStrength

DailyStrength

DailyStrength

DailyStrength is a division of its parent company, Sharecare, offers a social network full of support groups. Its purpose is to provide emotional support in dealing with various medical conditions and life challenges.

While they offer a variety of support groups, the bipolar group is one of the most popular forums. With almost 7,000 members, the forums remain an active place to learn from others, share your experiences, and find support.

Contact information for medical professionals is also available. The site lists treatments for many of the illnesses and problems addressed. It's free, and members are encouraged to remain anonymous.

You can read and leave messages 24 hours per day. If you want to search for healthcare professionals in your area who specializes in bipolar disorder, there is also a link to Sharecare where you can do that.

There is a "General" category where you can talk about everyday issues with bipolar disorder or even just what’s going on in your day. There is also a "Crisis" category you can use when you are having a serious issue and need advice.

DailyStrength has a unique feature in addition to the community support groups. According to them, "writing helps anyone suffering about 93% of the time, so therefore DailyStrength has the option to write a journal." You can keep your journal private, or you can make it public to inspire others. The choice is yours.

One more fun aspect of the website is the “Hugging Friends” feature: You can send various expressions of encouragement any time you feel the need.” A virtual hug with a nice message of support can go a long way.

Best for Education: The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI)

The National Alliance On Mental Illness

The National Alliance On Mental Illness

The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) started out in 1979 as a small grassroots group of people who all had family members with mental illness. Since then, they have grown into the nation’s largest mental health organization, helping hundreds of thousands of families. 

The alliance provides “advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.”

Some of the ways NAMI tries to accomplish this mission is by offering classes and training for people living with mental illnesses, their families, community members, and professionals. 

They also hold regular fundraising events for the organization and education, including Mental Illness Awareness Week and NAMIWalks. NAMI publishes a magazine around twice a year called The Advocate, and they also run a toll-free HelpLine providing free information and support.

NAMI's website provides extensive information about bipolar disorder. You can learn about symptoms, treatment options, and the latest research. 

Their “Discuss” section allows you to connect with other members. Forum topics include things such as “Coming Out With Bipolar Disorder,” “When Bipolar Comes For You,” and “Artist With Bipolar.”

NAMI offers a toll-free, NAMI HelpLine for anyone seeking more information, and it provides a Crisis Text line that allows anyone to connect with a trained crisis counselor for free.

Most Intuitive: Psych Central

Psych Central

Psych Central

Psych Central is an independent, mental health social network that was named one of the Internet’s 50 Best Websites in 2008. There is a reason the site has been around for 25 years and gets 6 million visitors each month—its ease of use. 

Mental health professionals create and oversee all of the content published on the site. In addition to a variety of mental health articles, they provide online forums for individuals who want to chat about a variety of topics, including bipolar disorder. There are also sub-forums entitled “Bipolar Treatments” and “Bipolar Success Stories.”

Psych Central has a great search engine, where you can find a topic by entering certain keywords. You can also find posts or threads started by a specific user. 

Membership to their online forums is free. As long as you are a member, you can post a new thread in the forums and read existing content. You can reply to other members' posts, or you can just send them a virtual hug as a nice gesture. 

How We Chose The Top Bipolar Support Groups

We assessed some of the most popular online bipolar support groups and discussion forums. We looked for the groups that were the most active in offering the best resources and supporting their members to be able to live well with bipolar disorder. We looked for the sites that provided the most reliable and helpful information and were able to offer it in a way that encouraged engagement from members.

We chose groups that offered a combination of professional content (from a mental health professional) as well as peer support (such as discussion forums with other members living with bipolar disorder). All of our picks are either completely free to join or who only charged small fees to maintain their sites.

We also looked for groups that report they do not tolerate bullying, harassment, or disrespectful behavior. Support groups that announce who their moderators are were given preference. Moderated groups may be less likely to tolerate unhealthy communication and more likely to support members with respectful communication.

What Is The Purpose of a Bipolar Support Group?

A support group can serve many functions. Members may provide emotional support to one another as they share a common understanding of what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder. 

They may also talk about their treatment, including what’s helped and what hasn’t. They might discuss medications, therapy, and self-help strategies. They may also share resources, such as information on how to afford medication when insurance doesn’t cover it or links to articles that they find helpful.

Who Should Attend a Bipolar Support Group?

Anyone who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder may benefit from a support group. It’s important to talk to your physician or mental health treatment provider to learn whether a support group might be a helpful part of your treatment plan.

Loved ones may also benefit from a support group. Meeting with other people who understand what it’s like to support someone with bipolar disorder may be helpful to them as well.

Are The Groups Run By Mental Health Professionals?

Some groups are facilitated or moderated by mental health professionals, but most are not. Instead, they may be run by volunteers who are also living with bipolar disorder.

How Do I Know Which Site Is Best For Me?

Consider what factors are most important to you. Would you prefer to log into a site to read messages? Would you prefer to receive messages emailed to you? Or, would you like to have a live chat discussion with someone?

Read about each site’s goals and see if they are in line with your objectives. 

Does It Cost Anything To Join a Support Group?

Most online support groups are free, but some of them charge a small fee to maintain their websites.

How Do Online Support Groups Differ From In-Person Support Groups?

Most in-person support groups meet on a regular schedule. They may host weekly or monthly meetings where members can gather to talk.

Online groups typically don’t ask members to be available at a certain time (DBSA is an exception). Instead, members can read and post messages whenever they want. Some of them offer live chats while others offer forums or email subscriptions. 

An advantage of an online group is that you can connect with members from across the globe. You also might appreciate not having to commute to the meetings, and you won’t need childcare.

A downside is that you won’t have face-to-face contact with group members (which is important to some people).

Are Online Support Groups Confidential?

Most online forums can be viewed by anyone on the web, so most websites recommend that you not use your real name. Instead, choose a nickname that will allow you to remain anonymous.

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Article Sources
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  1. bphope.com. "About Us." Accessed 4/7/20

  2. 7cups.com. "7 Cups." Accessed 4/7/20.

  3. dbsalliance.org. "About DBSA" Accessed 4/7/20.

  4. dailystrength.org. "Bipolar Disorder Support Group." Accessed 4/7/20

  5. nami.org. "About NAMI." Accessed 4/7/20

  6. TIME. "50 Best Websites 2008." Accessed 4/7/20.