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All-Wales Education Programme for people with Bipolar Disorder launched

20 January 2010

Wales’ first dedicated educational programme designed to improve the quality of life of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder and their families will be officially launched today (Wednesday, 20th January).

The Bipolar Education Programme Cymru (BEPCymru) is Wales’s first programme to offer group education for people with bipolar disorder and their families in addition to their regular treatment.

The five year project, funded by a grant of £770, 862 from the Big Lottery Fund’s £15 million Mental Health Matters (MHM) programme, aims to promote the rehabilitation and independence of people with serious mental health problems in Wales and support those at greatest risk of suicide.

The evidence-based programme, delivered through 10 weekly sessions and consisting of a combination of presentations, group discussions and group exercises, provides people with bipolar disorder with a greater understanding of their condition and enables them to take personal responsibility for managing their condition.

The programme is the brainchild of members of Cardiff University’s leading Mood Disorders Team based in the University’s Department of Psychological Medicine and Neurology, School of Medicine.

Dr Ian Jones, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine and Co-director of BEPCymru, said: "The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has highlighted the need for treatment for bipolar disorder to be combined with other interventions such as psychoeducation in order to gain maximum effect.

"The launch of the Bipolar Education Programme Cymru (BEPCymru) helps us meet this recommendation. This unique programme is designed to enable participants to gain improved awareness of their disorder, have a better understanding of their treatment, provide the skills necessary to detect early signs of relapse and, most importantly, enable them to make informed decisions about their treatment."

An initial pilot programme has already run in Cardiff with further 10-week sessions due to start in Cardiff shortly. As part of the five-year programme BEPCymru will also be rolled-out across Wales with the support of local Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT) and GPs.

Highlighting the importance of lottery funding, Big Lottery Fund Wales Committee Member and Chair of the Mental Health Matters Committee, Barbara Wilding, said: "One in four of us will experience mental health problems at some point during our lives so it is important to recognise the issue. People with mental health problems are some of the most disadvantaged people in society. Many are isolated and have low self-esteem and low aspirations. Their condition is made worse by the stigma, lack of understanding and discrimination they face daily.

"This project will have a significant impact on the lives of people who suffer with mental health problems in Wales and our funding will make an important strategic contribution to developing mental health services across the country, by helping people with mental health problems and supporting projects that try to overcome the barriers that they face."

In addition to the main programme, single sessions will be run for families and carers of individuals attending the programme.
It is hoped that over the five-year lifetime of the programme it will help up to 200 individuals per year, with some 1000 people benefiting over the lifetime of the programme, with the benefits extending to their families and the wider community.

Cardiff School of Medicine
Cardiff University’s School of Medicine is a significant contributor to healthcare in Wales, a major provider of professional staff for the National Health Service and an international centre of excellence for research delivering substantial health benefits locally and internationally. The school’s 800 staff include 500 research and academic staff who teach more than 2,000 students, including 1,110 postgraduate students.

The School is based at the Heath Park Campus, a site it shares the University Hospital of Wales, the third largest university hospital in the UK. The School has an all-Wales role, contributing greatly to promoting, enhancing and protecting the nation’s health. A key partner in this role is the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales, with which the School is linked at all levels. This mutual dependency is illustrated by the teaching of medical undergraduates in more than 150 hospitals located in all of Wales’ health authorities. The medical curriculum followed at the School enables students to acquire and apply knowledge, skills, judgement and attitudes appropriate to delivering a high standard of professional care.

Around 300 new doctors currently graduate from the School every year and the Welsh Assembly Government has invested substantially in new teaching facilities to increase this number further.

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Visit the University website at:

Helen Davies
Project Co-ordinator BEP Cymru
Cardiff University
School of Medicine
Tel: 029 20 742038

Visit the BEPCymru website at

For media enquiries or to film at the launch, please contact:
Chris Jones
Public Relations
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 20 874731