7 October 2013 14:08

Researchers and people with bipolar disorder are working together at Lancaster University to help improve the lives of people living with the condition.

As part of Bipolar Awareness Day on October 8, researchers at the University’s Spectrum Centre will be giving interviews to the media about their world-leading research.

Spectrum Centre Researcher Rita Long experiences Bipolar herself.

She said:  “Celebrities such as Catherine Zeta Jones, Robbie Williams and Stephen Fry, to name a few, have kept BP topical in the media but there is much more to learn.

“BP is a fascinating disorder which brings many positives as well as negatives. For example, one of our recent pieces of work involved interviewing people who have bipolar and giving them the opportunity to talk about their positive experiences which ranged from increased productivity and creativity to a greater sense of empathy for others who suffer. ”

The Spectrum Centre is home to the leading research team in the UK focusing on mental health and in particular Bipolar Disorder. Work at the Centre focuses on improving understanding of bipolar and psychosis related experiences, developing improvements in treatment, support for relatives and translating these into practice.

Spectrum collaborates with more than 25 NHS Trusts, 14 voluntary organisations, and 8 Universities (from the UK and abroad), and, by developing the Spectrum Connect and the Advisory Panel,  the Centre has provided real example of how the NHS public involvement agenda should be implemented.

Recent work includes:

•   A study exploring how mental health services could meet relatives’ needs

•  Two studies offering timely access to a free, six month intervention delivered by a trained professional. The first focuses on providing support to people with bipolar experiences and their relatives

•   The second aims to support recovery in bipolar.

•   Two web-based interventions. One to support parenting in bipolar (www.ibpi.co.uk) and another that aims to enhance relapse prevention (www.erponline.co.uk

•    A study exploring relationships between thinking style, responses to mood, positive experiences of mood swings, inspiration, mood and recovery

Professor Steven Jones and Dr Fiona Lobban are co-directors of the Spectrum Centre.

Dr Lobban said: “It is heartening to see the increase in developments in psychosocial treatments for people with Bipolar Disorder and improvements in access to those services, but we still have a lot to do to get to the point that these are as readily available as medication.”

Professor Jones said: “It is important to raise mental health awareness as mental health problems affect a significant proportion of the population. And although some mental health problems can be particularly devastating, if people can be offered the right psychological treatment at the right time, their lives can be transformed. At the Spectrum Centre we are developing a wide range of psychosocial treatment options for people with mental health problems and their relatives, focusing primarily on Bipolar, so that it will be possible to offer people genuine choices of psychological support, matched to their current needs, which may range from receiving straightforward information and advice to undertaking intensive individual psychological therapy.”