Date Published: 10 October 2006

Mental Health Charity concerns about Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

New campaign highlights devastating social and financial impact of relapse and launches new tools to aid prevention

World Mental Health Day, Tuesday 10 October, 2006:
A new campaign, Think Twice, launched today, highlights the importance of relapse prevention in the long-term management of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A survey conducted by SANE found that, despite the importance placed on relapse prevention by psychiatrists, almost 70% of people surveyed had experienced at least one relapse, with almost 60% experiencing two or more. Many of these distressing events could be prevented through better understanding of the conditions.

For the one in 100 people in the UK with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, as well as for their friends, family, carers and society as a whole, relapse can have devastating consequences. Following each relapse it becomes increasingly difficult to regain control of symptoms ? not only impacting on future prognosis, but also quality of life and the individual's ability to interact with those around them.

Those who participated in the Think Twice survey highlighted the following consequences of relapse:

  • Inability to work (83%)
  • Problems in relationships with friends and family (78%)
  • Self-destructive behaviour (74%)
  • Hospitalisation (61%)
  • Trouble with the police (28%)

Given these devastating consequences it is not surprising that relapse not only impacts on individuals at the time of an event, but on a regular, often daily basis. Of those participants who had experienced a relapse, 93% said they worried periodically about the possibility of future relapses, with one in five reporting they worry all the time.

Relapse also places a significant financial burden on the healthcare system, as a result of the increased use of medical resources and need for inpatient care. For example, in schizophrenia, on average, a relapse costs £10,950 to manage (over 6 months), compared with the estimated cost of £2,532 for someone who has not experienced a relapse.

Marjorie Wallace, Chief Executive, SANE said:

By providing information and practical advice Think Twice will support people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. With more awareness of the causes and consequences of relapse, we hope that patients will be able to better manage their illness and discuss their own choice of treatments with their families and care teams ? so that they can get well and stay well.?

Dr Richard Hodgson, Consultant General Adult Psychiatrist, Staffordshire, adds:

Experiencing a relapse is undoubtedly an anxious time for those affected, their carers and families. It is vital that individuals are supported and able to restore order to their lives. Open discussions on what relapse looks and feels like will ensure that all involved are aware of how it occurs and the ways it can be prevented?.

When asked what ?being well' means to people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, both psychiatrists and those who participated in the Think Twice survey identified a number of common areas of importance, such as ability to function independently in day-to-day life, feeling alert and alive, feeling hopeful about the future and ability to have an active social life.

Clive, who has lived with schizophrenia for over 10 years, concludes:

For me, being well has enabled me to get back in contact with my family after losing contact with them for a number of years. I am also able to apply for jobs, something I never thought would be possible.?

As part of the Think Twice campaign, two complementary handbooks have been developed to aid communication between mental health teams and people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These key campaign resources aim to support purposeful relationship-building and facilitate open discussion about relapse. Additionally the patient handbook, available to download at www.thinktwicecampaign.org, provides a step-by-step guide to understanding, identifying and where possible, preventing relapse, as well as tool for recording key information toward the development of personalised steps for dealing with relapse.

 

Source: SANE (UK Mental Health Charity).

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