Bipolar Minds Matter: CEO of Bipolar UK and Co-Chair of the Bipolar Commission, both reflect on UK Government Mental Health Funding Announcement.

(image: Sway Communications)

Simon Kitchen, CEO of UK mental health charity Bipolar UK, says: 

“Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister that mental health will receive £40.2 million in funding is a positive step in the right direction for the one in four adults experiencing mental illness in the UK.

Although the Government funding announcement does not include bipolar specifically, we are hopeful that the high prevalence and the enormous burden of the condition will mean the bipolar research community receives much needed boost from this announcement.

The Bipolar Commission Report we took to policy makers on 8th November, found that bipolar accounts for 17% of the total burden of mental health but traditionally only received 1.5% of mental health research funding. This needs to change.

There are over a million people living with bipolar in the UK and every day one person with the condition takes their own life. Ensuring bipolar gets its fair share of mental health research funding is critical for reducing the 9.5 years it takes on average to get a diagnosis and for improving patient outcomes.   

Bipolar UK is the collective voice for people living with bipolar. Our clear position is that it is vital those living with the condition have as many treatment options available to them as possible and receive greater continuity of care so they can have a better quality of life.

It is possible for everyone with bipolar to live well and fulfil their potential.

Strong long-term relationships between individual clinicians and patients is a critical factor in this and there are currently not enough specialists in bipolar in the UK which leads to symptoms often being missed.

People living with bipolar have a suicide risk that’s 20 times higher than people without bipolar, a figure that could be significantly reduced with adequate funding.

There are more than a million people with bipolar in the UK — 30% more than those with dementia and twice as many as those with schizophrenia. Millions more are impacted through close friends and family.

Re-allocation of the funding that is already available will provide a significant improvement to people’s lives which is why we are asking for bipolar to be seen as a standalone mental health condition that requires its own share of the overall funding allocated to mental health.

People can live well with bipolar, but only if they have access to a clinician who knows them, their symptoms, their triggers, medical history, their family situation and their living arrangements to ensure on-going, effective care.”

(image: Bipolar UK: Simon Kitchen, CEO with this pledge )

Dr Guy Goodwin, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Oxford and co-chair of The Bipolar Commission adds: “I have been treating people with bipolar for more than 40 years. Over that time, I have frequently been astonished by the stories of patients who have been poorly served by services ostensibly designed to help them live better lives.

“Bipolar accounts for 17% of the total burden of disease attributable to mental illness and yet there is no priority given to its specialist treatment in policy documents produced by the Department of Health.

“Instead, since the 1999 National Service Framework, bipolar has been lumped into policy documents as the invisible twin of schizophrenia. Worse still, bipolar gets a mere 1.5% of research resources.

Ignorance of the price paid for this policy neglect is no longer a defence.”

Please go to bipolaruk.org/bipolarcommission to read more about the work of the commission, fighting to get fair funding for bipolar disorder- Bipolar Minds Matter.

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