We are families supporting families

Sharing real life stories

Families for Depression Awareness (FFDA) was founded in 2001 to train family caregivers to help a loved one with depression or bipolar disorder. Julie Totten, our founder and executive director until 2015, lost her brother, Mark, to suicide in 1990. Later, helping her father to get diagnosed and treated for depression, she better understood the essential role that family members can play in managing mood disorders (i.e., all types of depression and bipolar disorder) and helping their loved ones to get on the path to mental wellness.

FFDA was one of the first organizations to promote real-life people sharing their stories of living with depression or bipolar disorder. The social stigma of mental health conditions is a barrier to care, as it inhibits people from seeking help or even talking about their concerns. FFDA demonstrated that people of all backgrounds can live a life of wellness with depression or bipolar disorder and that families can play a pivotal role in supporting their loved ones in getting care and getting well. FFDA’s national public awareness campaign helped to dispel stigma, normalize mood disorders, and encourage people to reach out for help when supporting a loved one experiencing symptoms of mood disorders.


As mental health awareness gained traction, FFDA turned to offering practical advice to caregivers. Our webinars, workshops, and publications have helped caregivers better understand their role and feel more equipped and confident to provide effective support to their loved ones living with mood disorders. Families for Depression Awareness is the premier mental health organization specializing in educating and supporting family caregivers of people living with depression or bipolar disorder.