The first is the recognition of what can set off another episode of illness and what are the early signs of relapse. This needs to be, not only a general understanding of the illness but also a specific knowledge of how the illness affects the individual.
If the early indications are recognised then a plan should be implemented:
– Deal with the symptoms
– Minimise the problems likely to arise
– Identify people who can help
– Alter changes in medication to either abort the episode or reduce its impact
People are encouraged to minimise the possibility of relapse, through adopting lifestyle changes and taking appropriate medication. They are encouraged to develop an action plan to put what they learn about themselves and their illness into effect. Being an informed and insightful patient is one of the best routes to long term mental stability for those with bipolar disorder.
Self-management training is not a two day lecture on bipolar. It’s very group based with a lot of inter activity which all comes together at the end, so people have a clear understanding of their bipolar, their triggers, their warning signs, their support networks and what they can do to minimise the risk of relapse. But also what they can do in terms of an ‘Action Plan’, if things start to go wrong.
Finally, it should be noted that the vast majority of people with bipolar disorder who have attended our self-management training programmes in the last ten years have not been re-admitted to acute psychiatric hospitals during this last decade.