Better Care for People with Bipolar Disorder: A new booklet to be launched in December 2014

Bipolar Disorder is in the top 20 causes of years lost due to illness in the world among all health conditions. It affects 1.4% of the population and lasts for the rest of the person’s life. People diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder are 20 times more likely than the general public to commit suicide. In 2007 service provision costs for Bipolar Disorder and related conditions were estimated to be £1.6 billion. This is projected to increase to £2.6 billion by 2026.

People with Bipolar Disorder can make rash ill-considered decisions or become depressed and withdrawn which can impact on their lives. Advance Planning is a vital part of supporting people with Bipolar Disorder by helping them to keep control of their care when unwell, and protect their welfare, property and finances. A ground breaking, self-management guide, the first of its kind to be produced, is being launched to assist with Advance Planning for people with the condition. The production of the booklet has been funded by two East Midlands organisations: the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (EMAHSN) and the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East Midlands (CLAHRC EM) and has a direct link to the latest guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). It’s been created using extensive National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded research and with involvement from people with Bipolar Disorder, the NHS and academics led by the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health at Lancaster University; the guide has huge potential to help.

The booklet, which includes guidance on the Mental Capacity Act (MCA), will be officially launched at an event being organised by EMAHSN and CLAHRC EM; mental health is a top priority for both organisations. The MCA is designed to protect people who can't make decisions for themselves or lack the mental capacity to do so. Unfortunately many people with Bipolar Disorder have little awareness of the MCA; this booklet is a big step forward in helping people navigate the law and assisting in a timely recovery. Just by following a few simple steps this guide can reduce the burden on people’s overall health and well-being.

Lynda Fretwell, who has been living with Bipolar Disorder for more than 20 years, and who took part in the expert patient groups for PARADES, stated “Better care for people with Bipolar Disorder is something very close to my heart. Taking part in the Psychoeducation sessions helped me immensely and having an advance statement is something all people with this illness, and other conditions should consider. The Advance Planning Guide is a really useful and practical tool which could help me and many others like me.”

EMAHSN Managing Director, Rachel Munton said:

There are countless examples where people with Bipolar Disorder have made life changing decisions while unwell, which have resulted in subsequent significant hardship for themselves and their families – for example losing homes and businesses. People who use this guide will benefit from having peace of mind and feel more secure in the knowledge that their wishes will be taken into account. It can be daunting navigating your way through legal and medical processes; this guide gives users a degree of control back.

CLAHRC EM Research Director, Professor Richard Morriss commented:

The launch of this guide, the first of its kind for people with Bipolar Disorder, is a real milestone in how person-centred care and advice can be developed. The creation of the guide would not have been possible without the research programme participants and I’d like to thank everyone who took part.

The guide has also been endorsed by Bipolar UK. Their Chief Executive, Suzanne Hudson, said: “We support this guide and hope it provides useful information for anyone who is affected by Bipolar.”

The launch event taking place on 4 December 2014 at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground will see the first copies of the guide being distributed to attendees. The audience at the event will consist of people with Bipolar Disorder, carers, third sector organisations and health professionals from across the East Midlands. There will be workshops and activities aimed at showcasing new approaches to care, in addition to the dissemination of research results. Attendees will get to find out about the significant changes to the NICE guideline on the assessment and management of Bipolar Disorder.

Professor Mike Cooke CBE, who is chairing the event stated:

I think we have made great strides with bipolar and mood disorders in recent times and I as a person with bipolar in recovery am really proud to be chairing and jointly hosting the conference today with Professor Richard Morriss.

Collaborative research in this area has shown that psycho-social interventions which are tailored to individuals with bipolar help that sense of control, hope and opportunity needed to stay well. People with bipolar have a great deal of creativity and talent to contribute to society, employment, meaningful things to do and so much more.

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