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New Program Drops Bipolar Relapse

Australian researchers announce dramatic success using an innovative interdisciplinary group program to provide individuals with bipolar disorder the right tools and strategies to better self-manage their disease.

A supportive group environment can substantially reduce the burden on individuals, their families and the health system.

Melbourne mental health researchers halved the number of relapses experienced by people with bipolar disorder. The disorder which strikes one to two percent of the population, accounts for 12 per cent of Australian suicides each year and costs the country at least $1.5 billion annually.

With funding from the MBF Foundation and Beyond Blue, a team led by the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria developed the innovative structured group program to help people with bipolar disorder better manage their condition.

The 12-session program, led by trained mental health clinicians, enables people battling the disorder to effectively monitor their mood, assess personal triggers and early warning signs of oncoming illness and take the necessary steps to stay well.

In a controlled randomized study of 84 people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, those on the special intervention program had half the number of relapses after 12 months as the control group which continued with normal treatment.

Even with modern drug therapies that act as mood stabilizers, relapse rates for people with bipolar disorder are as high as 40 per cent in the first year and almost 75 per cent over five years.

MBF general manager health product, Michael Carafillis, said the new program provides a much-needed bridge between the mental health services that treat people when they are acutely ill and the GPs and private psychiatrists who provide ongoing care.

“Bipolar is a complicated disease involving periods of depression and mania and its sufferers don’t always take their medications when they should,” said Mr Carafillis.

“People with the condition straddle the divide between public and private systems resulting in poor continuity of care for many sufferers. They tend to gain access to the public system in the most severely disabling phase of their illness, typically mania, and are often too ill and the disorder too complex to be easily managed in primary care.”

Professor David Castle at the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria said providing people with bipolar disorder with the right tools and strategies to better self-manage their disease in a supportive group environment can substantially reduce the burden on individuals, their families and the health system.

Source: Research Australia

New Program Drops Bipolar Relapse

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). New Program Drops Bipolar Relapse. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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