On Wednesday 27 October 2021, Bipolar UK is hosting a parliamentary reception to present the initial findings of their Bipolar Commission, a widespread engagement exercise with people living with bipolar and their families to identify challenges in the healthcare system and to present recommendations for change to improve the lives of those with bipolar.

The initial findings focus on what bipolar is, what triggers it, how long it takes to get a diagnosis, the impact of a delay in diagnosis and the risks of living with the condition.

The research reveals an average delay of 9.5 years between people first contacting a health professional about symptoms and getting an accurate diagnosis of bipolar. Unsurprisingly, 60% of people said this delay had a significant impact on their life.

The findings have been analysed by Healthcare Economist Professor Paul McCrone and are based on the collated evidence of 2500 responses to surveys of people with bipolar, five regional summits, 30 stakeholders, 20 commissioners and expert advisors and the following project board:

  • Professor Guy Goodwin – Co-Chair – Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Oxford
  • Dr Clare Dolman – Co-chair- Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London
  • Professor Allan Young - Chair of Mood Disorders and Director of the Centre for Affective Disorders Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London (Trustee)
  • Professor Ian Jones - Cardiff University/ Director/Clinical Professor, National Centre for Mental Health (Surveys)
  • Simon Kitchen – CEO Bipolar UK - Project Sponsor

The overarching aim of the Commission is to reduce the number of lives lost to suicide in the bipolar community each year dramatically:

  • 1 in 20 people who take their own life in the UK have a diagnosis of bipolar [i]
  • Someone with bipolar has a suicide risk that’s at least 20 times greater than someone without bipolar [ii], which is higher than someone with major depressive disorder 

And while it’s impossible to get an exact figure [iii], these figures are very likely to be a massive underestimate.   

The Bipolar Commission was launched at the Bipolar UK annual conference on World Bipolar Day 2021. The full report of the findings will be presented at the annual conference next World Bipolar Day (30 March 2022).

Bipolar UK is the national charity in the UK dedicated to supporting individuals with the much misunderstood and devastating condition of bipolar, their families, friends and loved ones.

To donate, go to bipolar.org.uk/donate

£10 helps someone get peer support from our eCommunity
£50 helps someone get peer support via call back or email
£500 helps 820 people find information via our website
£1000 helps 13 people get peer support on Zoom
£5000 helps 560 people use all our services for a month to keep well


For more information, expert quotes and case studies, please contact Sarah Owen on 07759 232028 or at [email protected]



[i] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0004867415594427 

[ii] Literature Reviews, L. Plans 2019 / Pompili M, Gonda X, Serafini G, Innamorati M, Sher L, et al. (2013)

[iii] It is impossible to get an exact figure because suicide data sets tend to be limited and are slow to update; there has been very little research funding into understanding the number of suicides in people with bipolar; and there are big grey areas like the number of people who remain undiagnosed and misdiagnosed.