World Bipolar Day – 30th March 2021

Mental health is an essential aspect of health, and it significantly influences the cause, course, management and prevention of many other diseases, which ultimately determines a person’s general wellbeing.

Living with a mental illness can significantly affect your daily functioning, social interactions and performance in any task. It can also make pursuing life goals more difficult.

However, for various reasons, mental health issues are largely neglected and underestimated, making the implementation of quality mental health care measures challenging. Treatment gap for mental illnesses in Ghana is about 50% to 80%. T

Thus, there are many people suffering quietly from mental illnesses without receiving the needed care. Chronic mental illnesses including Schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, stress, bipolar disorder etc., can cause considerable suffering and dysfunction for individuals and their families.

Each year, on the 30th of March, we commemorate World Bipolar Day to create awareness on Bipolar Disorder. Stakeholders are called upon to institute more effective measures to deal with Bipolar Disorder globally and uphold international best practices to help reduce the burden of mental illnesses.

According to the Whole Health Organization (2019), approximately, 45million people live with Bipolar disorder globally, out of the 700million people living with some form of mental illness. It has a peak onset from age 15 to 19 years, typically starting before age 30.

Usually, people suffering from bipolar disorder have alternating episodes of unusually elevated moods (manic episode) and low mood (depressive episodes), with periods of normal mood. It can be described as, “at one point they are on top of the world, and another point, the world is on top of them”.

These extreme moods significantly impair their functioning, and can influence certain behaviors that may not be appropriate, and may be socially unacceptable.

The varying degrees of experiences significantly impairs their functioning, social relations, pursuit of their academic and career goals, and may be a barrier to them in conforming to properly societal norms.

Many factors may increase one’s risk of developing Bipolar Disorder. Usually, this disorder is attributed to a combination of biological and environmental factors.

The brain is the seat for all mental activities, and in bipolar disorder, usually, there is a disruption of some chemicals and pathways in the brain, and also influenced by the person’s genetic predisposition (running through families), to the illness.

In addition, environmental risks include childhood traumatic experiences including sexual or physical abuse etc., life challenges and painful losses such as loss of loved one, family conflicts, work and financial stresses, relationship difficulties etc.

Managing Bipolar disorder can be challenging due to its chronicity and relapse during treatment, usually, the chances for recurrence over 12 months may be as high as 50%, especially if the right treatment is not provided.

Inadequate access to quality care, lack of compliance to treatment protocols, societal stigma, negative religious interference, and inability to deal with triggers may increase risk factors initiating the episodes.

Providing the appropriate treatment of bipolar disorder is essential to reduce a major complication and a high lifetime risk of 15% to committing suicide. There is a potential risk of sufferers developing other health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, alcohol and substance use disorder, diabetes, chronic kidney diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections.

Again, behavioral problems may affect their social relationships, financial and work performance, and may increase their risk of having crime
related or legal problems.

The Ghana Psychological Association (GPA) in commemorating World Bipolar Day, takes the opportunity to educate the general public on Bipolar Disorder and calls for a holistic approach in managing it. We acknowledge the multifactorial nature of the disorder, and its impact on every aspect of sufferers lives. The GPA therefore, recommends a combination of therapies in addressing the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of sufferers.

While proper treatment in a health facility is very necessary to control symptoms with the use of some medications, psycho social counselling services are critical for sufferers to help in managing the risks or triggers, and maximize their functioning.

Family members and the entire society are encouraged to provide support for persons with the disorder, during treatment and interventions and beyond. Good social support is key in upholding all the Bipolar management protocols for life to minimize the negative effects of the disorder and a possible recurrence.

Global efforts may not be effective if locally, governments and communities do not implement the right policies to help address the mental health needs of the populace, including Bipolar Disorder.

Non-discrimination and stigmatization of persons with mental illnesses, increased access to quality and affordable care and sustained running of mental health education programs in community will go a long way to help maximize the mental wellbeing of people in the various communities. Remember, there is no health without mental health!

GPA wishes you a mentally healthy day, as we celebrate World Bipolar Day. #PsychologyisLife#

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Source: Ghana Web



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