It was bound to happen — using text messaging to improve one’s condition. After all, text messaging is very nearly always available wherever you might be (while the Internet typically requires a computer to use it effectively).

So it wasn’t surprising to see that the use of such a text messaging system for bipolar disorder won an award in the U.K. earlier this month:

[…] Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford University’s department of psychiatry […] created a text messaging system for people with bipolar disorder, which enables them to monitor their own condition and keep GPs updated on how they are feeling. […]

Oxford University’s Prof John Geddes said: “I’m delighted that our project has been selected from so many for the NHS Live award.

“We believe our text messaging system is a great way of improving support for those with bipolar disorder, and it allows them to take much more control of the way they live with their condition. With this project, we’ve created something that can really make a difference to the way care is provided.

How does it work?

Staffers at the mental health center send out text messages once a week to folks with bipolar disorder. The client replies back with a text letting the staff know how they are feeling and doing with their treatment that week. If the client suggests there might be a problem, the staffers are alerted to it far more quickly than waiting for the patient to come in on their own or pick up the phone.

It’s genius in its simplicity because it combines the dis-inhibition of texting (which makes it more likely the patient will text back an honest answer), with a simple weekly check-in which can be helpful to people grappling with conditions that can be longer-term in nature (such as bipolar disorder). Plus, since the client doesn’t have to do anything proactively (the exchange is started by the staffers), it’s much easier for a person to reply to the text with an honest answer. (The alternative — picking up the phone to schedule an early appointment to come in to talk about a disintegrating mood — is likely far more anxiety-provoking and possibly depressing to many people.)

The article suggests that health organizations in other countries, including the U.S., are looking to copy the scheme. As long as it’s voluntary, we think it’s another positive option for folks to consider — especially if staying on a medication is important for the person’s continued well-being.

Read the full article: Patients Text Messages Win Award



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 6 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Jul 2008
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2008). Text Messaging for Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from


Recent Comments
  • Timmy: Sometimes I hate the noise other people make so much I stay in the house with white noise going to block it...
  • carol: Hi Jessymum, can u tell me more about your dietary changes helping to reduce your pain and inflammation? I...
  • jassyly: If anything means, I congrats to you, for being brave. I was growing in severely disfunctuonal...
  • Pamela Jarrett: It took me 8 years to get my hypothyroidism diagnosed. It was ruining my life. I was referred to a...
  • jassyly: Decide to love yourself and honour your life and do please, leave him for good and save your soul. I myself...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 6078
Join Us Now!