Thursday, 26 April 2018

Keeping Mood on Track

On 12 March 2018 the project PERFECT team hosted an event for the Arts and Science Festival at the University of Birmingham, entitled: Start, Stop, Pause: Keeping Mood on Track, with the aim of sharing information about bipolar disorder, and the psychological interventions that have proved successful in improving people's quality of life and avoiding their relapse.

The session was led by Lizzie Newton who works as a clinical psychologist on the Mood on Track programme and an expert by experience describing how bipolar disorder impacted on his life, and what his involvement was with the programme. Their joint presentation included information about what bipolar is, about how a diagnosis is made and people can get help, about the Mood on Track programme, and about what we can all do to support people who may be experiencing changes in mood. The session ended with some questions and comments from the audience.

Bipolar disorder presents as a pattern of changes in how people think, feel and behave, and in their physical responses. Between 1% and 5% of the population has bipolar disorder, and more women than men ask for help. People tend to be diagnosed when they are in their twenties. They get this diagnosis when they experience different moods, from mania (high mood) to depression (low mood). They can also get some psychotic symptoms when they have mania or depression, and such symptoms disappear when their mood gets better.

Some people also suffer from anxiety, may have suicidal thoughts, and engage in risky behaviour. Associated with bipolar are not only bad experiences, but also good experiences (especially when mood is high): higher connectedness, creativity, a greater sense of autonomy, and productivity.

Via the recount of a person experience of bipolar, the audience heard that no bipolar presentation is the same, and that there can be big differences from person to person. That is why Mood on Track offers group interaction but ultimately leaves participants with a personalised "get well plan" that they have arrived at with some help, and they prepare to follow. 

The programme is very unique as it offers both psychoeducation and personalised treatment to reduce relapse, improve functioning, and reduce risk. It is 20 years old and in this time it has been very effective and has produced good health outcomes helping people manage their mood and keep on track.

The speakers ended the session asking how we can change attitudes to mental health, and their suggestions are as follows:

1. STOP ignoring mental illness

2. PAUSE to think about mental health

3. START talking and asking about mental health and wellbeing

It was a very informative and engaging session!

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