Above: Professor Craddock pictured with Stephen Fry. The acclaimed actor, writer and broadcaster featured the Professor’s work in a documentary called The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive.
Researchers at Cardiff University are about to begin work on the world’s first internet-based education treatment for patients with bipolar disorder.
In June the Bipolar Disorder Research Network, which is based at Cardiff University and led by Professor Nick Craddock (whose picture is featured adjacent to the link to this story), will commence work on the Beating Bipolar programme, a project which aims to teach patients and relatives about diagnosis, causes and treatments.
The programme will:
• Focus on helping patients develop self-management skills and ways to cope with early signs of relapse.
• Comprise eight 20-minute interactive modules which will be made available on the Beating Bipolar website over a four-month period.
• Feature an on-line forum where patients will be able to discuss the programme and share experiences and knowledge with each other.
The clinical trial will involve approximately 100 patients with bipolar disorder in South Wales and has been developed with funding from the National Institute of Health Research and in collaboration with the Healthcare Learning Company.
As well as undertaking this ambitious project, researchers at Cardiff University have also been busy trying to reduce the stigma often associated with bipolar disorder by helping EastEnders’ scriptwriters develop a storyline about the illness.
The series has recently shown soap opera character Stacey Slater struggling with the symptoms of serious mental illness; viewers have watched Stacey’s mother, Jean, attempt to persuade her daughter to seek medical help but with little success to date.
Professor Craddock was involved in work on the storyline and informed the BBC Wales news website this week: “In the past people have not spoken about this illness because of the stigma. We hope to bring it to the public domain and get more research done so we get better treatment for this illness. We’ve also been involved in setting up a public information site to support the EastEnders’ episodes and provide information.”
Earlier this year, following a long history of joint working, the Welsh mental health charity, Hafal, and Professor Craddock’s research team at the Psychiatric Department of Cardiff University, agreed to formalise their partnership and establish a joint commitment to creating research priorities which take account of what patients want.
The partnership, over and above normal joint working, seeks advantage from a commitment to close working for the real benefit of researchers and patients alike.
For information on the Bipolar Disorder Research Network and to take part in their research please visit: www.bdrn.org/Welcome.html
For information on the Beating Bipolar site please visit: http://www.beatingbipolar.org/
Hafal, Wales’ leading charity for people with serious mental illness and their carers, has produced a leaflet entitled An Introduction to Bipolar Disorder, to access it please visit: http://www.hafal.org/hafal/publications.php
For information on EastEnders: http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/