Living Well With Bipolar Disorder Programme – An excellent addition to Aware’s service offering
People who live with bipolar disorder are a core constituency of the Aware organisation. Developing and delivering a programme which would support, educate, and inform people to live well with bipolar disorder was a service in need of, and well worth providing.
There is a clear need to attend to and meet the mental health needs of people with bipolar disorder in our community. Additionally, arguably there has been a dearth of sufficient supports for people in the community living with bipolar disorder. Into that space, under the clinical governance of Aware’s Clinical Committee, the original source material from Dr Declan Lyons was crafted into an eight-week psycho-educational programme by Dr Claire Hayes (then Clinical Director of Aware) and the Aware staff team in 2021. As of today, we are delighted to have provided twenty programmes to 182 people since the programme’s inception.
We are deeply conscious of the stigma and sense of shame that is linked – for some people – living with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. At whatever point or place a person is with their diagnosis and living with this condition, the programme seeks to encourage people out of that space of stigma and shame. Speaking about the impact of bipolar disorder on you and your loved ones is a central pillar of the programme. Giving people with bipolar disorder the space to develop their knowledge and understanding of bipolar disorder and what it is like for them, uniquely, to live with it is central to this programme.
Crucially, inviting people to share and reflect their thoughts and feelings about living with bipolar disorder in a group environment with other people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder fosters the spirit of de-stigmatising the condition. This has proved to be the rock with which the programme has flourished. Participants have continuously described the connectedness they have felt in the shared company of other people living with bipolar disorder. People have felt that they are not alone, perhaps for the very first time. This is the essence of the support this programme provides to people.
Hearing this inspires us to develop and grow the programme. At its heart this programme affords people the space to learn new ways of managing the condition more effectively, inviting programme participants to internalise that, although bipolar disorder is a recurrent condition, with the right supports and following a plan that works, people with bipolar disorder can live well with the condition.
This blog is by Stephen McBride, Director of Services at Aware, as part of a blog series for World Bipolar Day (March 30 2023).
The Living Well With Bipolar Disorder Programme is an information and support programme, designed for people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.