2 August 2013 14:00

Lancaster University’s ground-breaking specialist research centre has been at the forefront of action to improve services nationally for people who live with bipolar disorder.

The Spectrum Centre, the only academic institution chosen by the Government earlier this year to help improve psychological therapies for people with severe mental illnesses, joined forces with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, also Government-handpicked, to stage a national open day and conference.

More than 90 delegates from across the country, including clinicians, commissioners and some 20 service users, attended the event which highlighted and discussed a range of national initiatives to improve the development and delivery of psychological approaches for bipolar disorder.

Spectrum Centre’s two co-directors Professor Steve Jones and Dr Fiona Lobban addressed the event, held in Birmingham, which combined specialist speakers and facilitated break-out sessions, was held in Birmingham.

Senior Research Associate Dr Elizabeth Tyler, who helped stage the conference, said: ““The day went really well and attendees reported the event was both useful and informative.”

“There was a wealth of valuable information, appealing to both service users and providers. We felt the conference provided a platform to demonstrate the good practice and high standards which exist between Spectrum and BSMHT.”

Both the Spectrum Centre and the Birmingham Trust were selected to work in partnership to deliver the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Severe Mental Illness national ‘demonstration site’, a best practice pilot programme, for bipolar disorder.

This project aims to increase public access to a range of psychological therapies for bipolar disorder, with the long term ambition of ensuring that all people living with this disorder who could benefit from evidence based psychological therapies have access to them.

Professor Jones said: “The IAPT demonstration site will for the first time provide clear practical guidance for good practice in psychological care for bipolar disorder across the NHS.

“This initiative has the potential to radically change what is offered to people living with this challenging condition and in doing so transform many people's lives.”