So, what is Bipolar?
Bipolar, also referred to as “manic depression", is when someone’s mood can swing from one extreme to another, often being either extremely happy and energetic (mania), to getting feelings of worthlessness and despair, as well as having suicidal thoughts (depression). The shifts in “highs" and “lows" can be exhausting and often disrupt someone’s everyday life.
Bipolar can occur at any age (affecting 1 in every 100 adults), although most commonly it develops between the ages in 15 and 19, and rarely with adults over 40 years old. The severity of mood swings varies between people - some people may only have one or two episodes in their lifetimes whereas some may have one every week.
The charity are very aware of the need for people with bipolar to feel supported in the workplace. They offer a variety of services to help employers and employees - a range of training courses for companies of all sizes, there is also a useful toolkit to help support employees.
Whether your company wants an awareness training session, or you simply want the charity there for support, the charity will work it out.
They’ll pop in for a day, meet each person individually, and create a bespoke plan for both senior staff and the affected individual(s) to work with to help manage the situation.
The charity also appreciates that bipolar doesn’t only impact on the one diagnosed with bipolar, but those around them, especially family and loved ones. The Peer Support Line is available over the phone and email. If you’re phoning in, you’ll have the chance to leave a message and expect a call back within 3 working days from a staff member who can talk you through anything on your mind, and offer advice and share their own personal experiences with you to find a way forward.
30th March - World Bipolar Day
What else can supporters do to help?
Donations go a long way to ensure Bipolar UK are able to keep their services running. However, gifts in kind are also extremely helpful, and the charity relies on volunteers giving their spare time by becoming a Peer Support Placement Volunteer. This entails one-to-one support of an individual via phone and email, participating in regular peer supervision with other volunteer team members. The charity would ideally look for someone who’s personally experiences bipolar (either they themselves have had a diagnosis, or are a family member or carer of an individual), and ultimately, the individual you are helping needs to be able to rely on you to be there for them. If this sounds of interest, anyone wanting to apply or find more information can visit their Peer Support Line page.
Supporters may also want to consider volunteering as a Support Group Co-facilitator, supporting and empowering people affected by bipolar. Support groups are held all over England and Northern Ireland. Join a small team to ensure that attendees share stories and experiences and support each other. Take a look at the Support Group page on their website to find out a bit more or to apply.