04 July 2016

Bipolar education breaks new ground

Bipolar edA small team in Salisbury has run a ground-breaking group education course for those with bipolar disorder.    

People with poor mental health are usually given information to help understand their condition in 1:1 sessions with their care workers but Sarum Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) based at Fountain Way are taking a group approach.

The course (made up of 12, two hour sessions) was completed by six people, some newly diagnosed and others with a longer term diagnosis. Referrals came from within the CMHT and from the Early Intervention team.

Information about bipolar disorder was given and discussed throughout the course. This included what it is, the course of the illness, the symptoms and the treatment options and relapse prevention.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Vahak Simon said "There is good evidence to show that psycho-education is effective when delivered in a group. It took a lot of development work by the team but the course has exceeded all expectations."

"Feedback has been really positive and encouraging" continued Dr Simon, "Service users highly appreciated the amount of information offered and the approach used. They highlighted the importance of being able to talk to others about the condition and how they are managing the challenges it presents. Pre- and post- measures demonstrated a considerable improvement in service users' awareness and understanding of the different aspects of bipolar illness".

CMHT community psychiatric nurse Ellen Bleese said "One service user said that the only time they had ever met another person with bipolar disorder was when they were unwell and in hospital and that it was nice to meet a fellow sufferer in a stable environment."

Polly Sturgess CMHT community psychiatric nurse who also helped run the course said "We encouraged people to build a life chart and present it to the group. At first there was reluctance but confidence grew and everyone did it."

Following this success, the second course will be starting in July and what's more, service users who completed the first course will participate in presenting their experience! It is also hoped that more nurses will take part and gain experience.

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression is fairly common and can be diagnosed at any age. It is a condition that affects the mood, which can swing from one extreme to another.





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