By Sarah Sikandar
Signal staff writer
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is back with its in-person meetings. Before COVID-19, the group meetings – which are held at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Gym & Education facility on 24525 Town Center Drive West – had nearly 20 attendants during each meeting. Like most other group activities, however, they switched to Zoom during lockdowns, which was not ideal, especially when it comes to mental health.
DBSA is a nonprofit group of peers who assist those with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and related issues. The group’s in-person meetings are back at the location, but the number of people who come to the meetings has dropped significantly, mainly because the community is unaware of the new schedule.
Jeff Fox, who is the Santa Clarita representative of Depression Bipolar Support Alliance, said the group is trying to spread the word about the return of in-person meetings.
“In-person support groups provide a sense of intimacy that is hard to duplicate online,” he said. In-person participants, Fox said, “seem to be more focused and confident in sharing. Online groups are great for convenience but lack body language nuance, a critical element in support groups.”
Although DBSA meetings are ongoing, this month they also coincide with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s May Mental Health Month. Charmine Navarro, a program coordinator for community education, said DBSA is important because mental health is a top need in the community.
“This means more resources for everyone and not just people who have been diagnosed.” She said the goal of any such program at Henry Mayo, especially during the May Mental Health Awareness Month, is to get rid of the stigma attached to mental illness.
“We need to take care of our mind like any other part of our body.”
For DBSA meeting schedules, other support groups and HMNH’s programs including its mindfulness series, visit the events page at bit.ly/3P0WZNv.