Workplace training and support

What is an advance statement?

An advance statement is a document where someone writes down their wishes and beliefs about what they would like to happen if they become unwell.

The aim is to create a guide for anyone who might have to care for someone if they become too unwell to make decisions or tell anyone what they would like to happen.

Who can make an advance statement?

Anyone can write an advance statement as long as they have the ‘mental capacity’ to make decisions. Mental capacity is the ability to make a decision (and understand the consequences of that decision).

In the workplace, an employee who is living bipolar and their employer can work together to fill out an advance statement to plan ahead. This means it is clear what needs to happen if someone becomes unwell at work.

What is written in an advance statement?

An advance statement is personal to each individual, but they can include any aspect of health or social care. For example, people with bipolar might find it helpful to include:

  • The behaviours colleagues may notice if they are becoming unwell, such as talking more or sending emails at 2pm (which could be symptoms of hypomania) or withdrawing socially or avoiding meetings (which could be symptoms of depression)
  • How they would like their manager to react and support them in different scenarios
  • Contact details for family members, friends and/or healthcare professionals who need to be contacted if they become unwell
  • What treatment they want
  • Practical details, such as who needs to look after their children or pets if they need to go into hospital

What might an example advance statement look like?

If my mood is going high, colleagues may notice rapid speech, a tendency to listen less and interrupt, and that I have less patience than normal. I might also work early in the morning or late at night so the timing of emails might be a clue that I am becoming unwell.

If my mood is going low, colleagues may notice that I’m looking down more and that I’m quiet in meetings. I might also arrive late to meetings, especially if they’re in the morning, or even avoid them altogether.

If my colleagues notice any of these symptoms, I would like someone to speak to me 1-1. They can suggest that it’s time to put my action plan into place which is:

  • Telling my line manager and deputy director that I am at risk of an episode
  • Self-medicating with medication
  • Taking a couple of days off to reset if necessary

What are the benefits of making an advance statement?

An advance statement can give someone with bipolar the peace of mind that their colleagues and employer have a better understanding of how to spot any early symptoms of bipolar and how best to support them.

When there’s a plan in place, line managers, HR teams and colleagues can feel more confident when they’re supporting someone with bipolar who’s struggling. Spotting and managing early bipolar symptoms can help to nip an episode in the bud and avoid long-term sick leave.

This understanding will allow for stronger relationships to be built between the employee with bipolar and their managers and will, ultimately, contribute to a higher likelihood of the employee performing well in work.

Is an advance statement a legal document?

An advance statement is not a legally binding document, but anyone who's making decisions about someone’s care must take it into account.

how can Bipolar UK help?

Bipolar UK offers a range of training and support options for employees and organisations, which can include tailored advice around creating Advance Statements and implementing meaningful reasonable adjustments.

Find Bipolar UK’s training options here

To book or ask about our online training and support, please email us at [email protected]

Anyone affected by bipolar can use our free support services here