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20 January 2010
A University developed educational programme designed to improve the quality of life of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder and their families has been launched.
The Bipolar Education Programme Cymru (BEPCymru) is Wales’s first programme to offer group education for people with bipolar disorder and their families in addition to their regular treatment.
The programme has been developed jointly by Professor Nick Craddock, Dr Ian Jones and Dr Danny Smith from the School of Medicine’s Mood Disorders group.
The five year project, funded by a grant of £770, 862 from the Big Lottery Fund’s £15 million Mental Health Matters (MHM) programme, aims to promote the rehabilitation and independence of people with serious mental health problems in Wales and support those at greatest risk of suicide.
The evidence-based programme, delivered through 10 weekly sessions and consisting of a combination of presentations, group discussions and group exercises, provides people with bipolar disorder with a greater understanding of their condition and enables them to take personal responsibility for managing their condition.
Dr Ian Jones, School of Medicine, (left) Barbara Wilding, Big Lottery and Dr Danny Smith, School of Medicine, launch BEPCymru
Dr Ian Jones, School of Medicine and Co-director of BEPCymru, said: "The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has highlighted the need for treatment for bipolar disorder to be combined with other interventions such as psychoeducation in order to gain maximum effect.
"The launch of the Bipolar Education Programme Cymru (BEPCymru) helps us meet this recommendation. This unique programme is designed to enable participants to gain improved awareness of their disorder, have a better understanding of their treatment, provide the skills necessary to detect early signs of relapse and, most importantly, enable them to make informed decisions about their treatment."
An initial pilot programme has already run in Cardiff with further 10-week sessions due to start in Cardiff shortly.
As part of the five-year programme BEPCymru will also be rolled-out across Wales with the support of local Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT) and GPs.
Big Lottery Fund Wales Committee Member and Chair of the Mental Health Matters Committee, Barbara Wilding, said: "One in four of us will experience mental health problems at some point during our lives so it is important to recognise the issue. People with mental health problems are some of the most disadvantaged people in society. Many are isolated and have low self-esteem and low aspirations. Their condition is made worse by the stigma, lack of understanding and discrimination they face daily.
"This project will have a significant impact on the lives of people who suffer with mental health problems in Wales and our funding will make an important strategic contribution to developing mental health services across the country, by helping people with mental health problems and supporting projects that try to overcome the barriers that they face."
In addition to the main programme, single sessions will be run for families and carers of individuals attending the programme.
It is hoped that over the five-year lifetime of the programme it will help up to 200 individuals per year, with some 1000 people benefiting over the lifetime of the programme, with the benefits extending to their families and the wider community.
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