Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should be receiving an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Cart


Guardian article about Bipolar UK

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 4:25 AM Comments comments (93)
published 30 January 2013

Under-resourced mental health services are in greater demand than ever as austerity cuts are causing an increase in the number of people experiencing depression. Guardian newspaper article by Mary O'Hara

There are multiple ways in which austerity affects different groups – be it young people who can't find work, disabled people undergoing humiliating "assessments" for work-readiness, or families awaiting the financial reverberations of benefits cuts or the "bedroom tax". But there is one constant that appears to be woven into all: concerns about mental health.

In recent months, I have interviewed scores of individuals all over the UK affected by austerity policies. I've also spoken to the frontline workers trying to help them. The subject of mental health and the unprecedented stress that the economic crisis and austerity have wrought comes up time and again, along with widespread concerns about what services will be available in the future to provide much-needed support if, as expected, things get worse.If there is one organisation that illustrates this particular pressure right now, it is arguably the charity Bipolar UK ( For three decades it has pioneered peer support for people living with bipolar disorder, a serious and common mental illness. 

By establishing and nurturing a network of localised, accessible support groups as well as other advice services, it has become the only dedicated service of its kind for people with the disorder and their families.Indeed, Bipolar UK has over the years acted as an indispensable mechanism preventing people from reaching the crisis point that leads them to end up at the door of already stretched – and costly – statutory mental health services. Now, due to soaring demand in the past year for its services (driven largely by people pushed to the edge financially) and a battle to raise funds (the charity relies on independent donations for 90% of its income), it is facing closure within a matter of months unless it can find £100,000. This is a small charity that, with minimal resources, helps about 65,000 people in a typical year (more in the past 12 months). 

These people would otherwise not have access to peer-support services. It is a beacon of user-led projects. And, as its chief executive, Suzanne Hudson, rightly points out, it is a great irony that at a time when public understanding of bipolar disorder – those with it experience depression and episodes of "manic" behaviour – is increasing, and when government has been lauding peer support, the people who most need help may no longer be able to access it.Make no mistake, statutory mental health services remain under-resourced. They face increased demand coupled with cuts to provision. As Wednesday's Care Quality Commission report notes, mental health accounts for a huge 23% of the overall health burden in the country. 

If this wasn't reason enough for greater resources, consider that the report reveals more people being detained under the Mental Health Act, that bed occupancy rates in acute settings are rising, and that there is mounting pressure on services more generally. The closure of a charity such as Bipolar UK can only exacerbate an escalating demand that isn't being met.

Suicide statistics published last week by the Office for National Statistics showed a sharp spike in the number of people taking their own lives in 2011 compared with 2010. Suicide and the reasons behind it are complex, but it is not unreasonable to conclude that, unless appropriate services are available to people in mental distress when they most need them (and bipolar disorder increases the risk of suicide by 20 times), more people will face tremendous struggles.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, summed up the seriousness of the situation: "Relentless cuts to mental health services are accelerating in an effort to save money, leaving all too many people at even greater risk, with no one to turn to and nowhere to go where they feel safe at times of crisis."

Diagnosing bipolar affective disorder

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 4:14 AM Comments comments (86)

"Zoe from South Wales spent twelve years with undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder. The personal cost to this mother of three was devastating, as, over the years, she was told she had Post Natal Depression and treated with anti-depressants. It's long been recognised that Bipolar Disorder could be both misdiagnosed and under-diagnosed and Dr Nick Stafford describes a new pilot project in Leicester to screen for the condition."