Faculty News

Mental health in the spotlight

Story Published: October 2013

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 have been 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:

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."

To mark 5 years of conducting high quality research into the understanding and psychological treatment of bipolar and other psychosis related experiences, the Spectrum Centre is hosting a series of events and initiatives throughout the year which commenced with their 5th Anniversary in July. The event, attended by people with lived mental health experiences, carers, health professionals, and academics, saw the launch of Spectrum's Mission Statement by Professor Tony Gatrell, Dean of Faculty of Health and Medicine and Internationally renowned Professor Richard Bentall from Liverpool University.

Spectrum's Mission Statement confirms their commitment to:

  • developing evidence based psychological approaches
  • targeting outcomes valued by people with bipolar disorder and psychosis related experiences
  • providing a choice of easily accessible interventions.

Today, to mark Bipolar Awareness Day, Spectrum's Mission Statement is available for everyone to endorse, adding their support to these aims.

Also featured on: Lancaster University News
Edited by: N.Thomason

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