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Bipolar UK, national partner to Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland, ​highlights the devastating consequences of a 9.5-year delay to bipolar ​diagnosis and how we can make a significant difference.

Bipolar is the fourth largest mental health condition globally. It is more than ​twice as common in the UK as epilepsy, and autism. Despite this, there is no ​specialist care pathway for bipolar and more than 60% of people with bipolar ​receive no specialist treatment.

It takes an average of 9.5 years to get a diagnosis. Without timely diagnosis and ​management, bipolar can be a devastating condition where people take ​impulsive risks, massively overspend, and experience paranoid delusions which ​can result in the loss of jobs, homes, and lives. Someone living with bipolar is also ​20 times more likely to take their own life, so diagnosis, treatment and support ​can be critical.

The delay to diagnosis is caused by lack of awareness of symptoms amongst the ​public, lack of expertise amongst clinicians and a lack of support throughout the ​diagnosis journey. Bipolar UK’s recent reporti addresses the situation and ​recommends cost-neutral changes that could dramatically improve the lives of ​those affected by bipolar.

One of the ways Rotary has supported Bipolar UK, is by helping to promote their ​‘Could it be bipolar?’ campaign. Launched in 2022, it highlights symptoms and ​directs people to resources on Bipolar UK’s website, including a Mood Disorder ​Questionnaire and a Mood Tracker app.

The initial 6-month campaign reached over 8 million people through social media ​and press with over 18,000 people taking the Mood Disorder Questionnaire who ​could now be on a journey to a life-changing, even life-saving diagnosis.

Bipolar UK’s campaign evaluation demonstrated clear successes but also ​highlighted the need to focus on healthcare engagement, because a lack of ​knowledge amongst GPs was cited as one of the barriers to diagnosis. In ​response, Bipolar UK has created a Clinical Advisory Panel to help increase ​engagement. They are also trialling a 6-month campaign in GP surgeries in the ​Northeast with posters highlighting symptoms in waiting rooms and letters ​posted to GP Practice Managers.

Bipolar UK is now looking at ways to expand the campaign to reach more young ​people. Students are a particular target as this is the age-range when people ​often first experience symptoms. Receiving a timely diagnosis can be life-altering.

The Rotary Bipolar eClub, is working with Bipolar UK to develop a global bipolar ​awareness project that will enable Rotary clubs to play a crucial role within their ​local communities. Beginning in England and Wales the club aims to develop a ​scalable model, that can be implemented across the world. Through sharing ​information, resources, and access to peer support services, Rotary could help ​transform the lives of millions.

For more details about the global project and how you can get involved, email ​Peter McLoughlin, Public Image Officer, Rotary Bipolar eClub at ​

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