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Section 15: Social inclusion Key points n People diagnosed with bipolar disorder may encounter difficulties with practicalities such as obtaining a driving licence or a travel visa. n There are both advantages and disadvantages in choosing to disclose mental health difficulties to existing or potential employers. Whilst there is no legal obligation to inform employers of diagnoses, people can be protected under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and some employers actively seek people recovering from mental health difficulties. n Some aspects of our culture are arguably unhelpful to anyone at risk of mania or depression, for example long working hours and valuing of excess work over a balanced life. n Mood problems can both cause and be caused by relationship problems. It is important to maintain good levels of social support and share difficulties with those around you. n The information in this report should be used as part of public information campaigns in order to reduce stigma and discrimination and promote social inclusion.

15.1 Overview Studies suggest that people diagnosed with ‘severe’ mental health difficulties are amongst the most socially and financially excluded groups in society (Huxley & Thornicroft, 2003, Leff & Warner, 2006). When individuals are also from ethnic minority, lesbian, gay or transgender communities, or asylum seekers, prejudice can operate on multiple levels and exclusion and social isolation be even greater. Unemployment, relationship difficulties and loss of social networks can all potentially impact on an individual’s mental well-being (Bradshaw et al., 2006). A recent review of recovery literature in mental health highlighted that change is required on two levels: individually and on a societal level (Onken et al., 2007). The following section considers some of the practical and social issues faced by individuals with bipolar experiences. 15.2 Stigma and ‘otherness’ versus continuum It is vital that health professionals begin to appreciate the vast individual differences among people diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Some people only have hypomanic episodes, some manic; some may have extremely distressing depressive episodes, some no apparent depressive episodes at all. Some may spend money extravagantly when ‘high’, others may go on very long walks at night, others may drink, and others may make little change to their routine, yet become much more gregarious. As with all of us, each person is wholly different from the next, and ‘symptoms’ vary considerably from one person to the next. It is also vital to understand that there are many people who do not meet the full criteria for bipolar disorder: ‘sub-clinical’ in the professional jargon. These people are sometimes described as ‘cyclothymic’ or of an ‘artistic temperament,’ ‘running hot and cold’, or simply ‘moody’. Almost everyone, additionally, has a ‘manic moment’ now and again, even if inconsequential and quickly resolved, and most of us will know, at some

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Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Bipolar Disorder  

This report was written by a working party of clinical psychologists who were chosen because of their particular expertise on the subject of...

Understanding Bipolar Disorder  

This report was written by a working party of clinical psychologists who were chosen because of their particular expertise on the subject of...