Bipolar disorder (BD) is a chronic and often debilitating mental health condition that affects adults of all ages. Quality of life with BD varies greatly in terms of both symptom patterns and lived experience. Most often, medication is necessary but insufficient alone to attain and maintain wellness with BD.
Pillar 1 – Foster psychosocial BD research
Our vision is to support cutting-edge psychosocial research bridging academic disciplines to achieve synergies that will advance both understanding and BD research methods. Psychosocial research today is limited so understanding of wellness with BD remains incomplete. We believe that understanding is best advanced when quantitative and qualitative methods are combined. Our research network includes for clinical research sites across Canada and an international team of leading BD researchers.
Pillar 2 – Wellness with BD, broadly defined
We define wellness broadly to include physical, mental and transcendent well-being. Moreover, we believe that there are strengths in BD (e.g., creativity), ways to thrive and varied pathways to achieve meaning in life, joy and ongoing well-being. We do not minimize the impact of BD symptoms but our focus is wellness so that symptoms are understood along with strengths, resilience and personal, social and community resources. Negotiating healthcare networks can also be integral to wellness with BD as well as income and housing security.
Pillar 3 – BD from a lifespan perspective
The awareness that BD affects both young and older adults is a primary pillar of our vision; our emphasis is BD in the second half of life. As the onset of BD almost always occurs before age 40, older adults with BD often have decades to hone their self-care and coping strategies. Life expectancy with BD is longer than decades past but psychosocial research specific to older adults with BD is virtually nonexistent. Our mission is to fill this void.
Pillar 4 – Support for carers of those with BD
The effects of this disorder impact those with BD as well as their family and friends in varied ways. Another pillar of our vision is research and support for family, friends and others who care for persons with BD. Our goal is also to provide empirically- supported services to BD carers to enhance wellness (individually and in groups). Caring comes with challenges but also opportunities for personal growth, greater compassion, and self-understanding.
We believe that well-being with BD is an individual journey fostered in healthy and supportive networks. We contend that health-enhancing relationships are vital to well-being for both persons with BD and those who care for them. Care for those with BD is distinct from other mental health conditions. We will support psychosocial research that examines the impact of BD on friends and families.
Pillar 5 – Building awareness
We will share new knowledge with stakeholders, most importantly, those with BD lived experience. Emerging knowledge will impact public policy and service delivery. Part of our vision entails building BD knowledge and awareness (e.g., counter stigma, misconceptions).