These are such uncertain times with so many challenges to face. For those of us living with bipolar, an added uncertainty can be about accessing familiar healthcare resources and receiving suitable care and treatment if we become unwell. It’s very likely that this will be more difficult than usual and that it may not be possible to be treated by professionals you already know and who know you and your medical history.

One useful way to manage some of this uncertainty would be to write a document in which you provide key information for professionals who might treat you if you become unwell. Here you can provide information about things like your condition, treatments which work/don’t work and contact details both for family/friends and for health professionals who are familiar with your history.This ‘Mental Health Advance Statement’ would be useful at any time, not just during coronavirus. It’s not a formal or binding document – but can provide important details and guidance, especially for professionals who are unfamiliar with you.

I updated my own ‘Advance Statement’ last week – as someone both living with bipolar and as a researcher in the field, it seemed a good idea. But it was also challenging – thinking about times when I’ve been unwell and trying to think through possible contingency plans if usual treatment or teams are unavailable. Even so, I found that writing the document was a good way to reflect on my health and maybe even bring some increased sense of understanding or control at this time. Hopefully, writing this document, either yourself or with your family or friends, can also be helpful for you. 

The documents can be accessed online. or via twitter

If you think this could be useful for people with bipolar or other mental health issues, please do help it to reach others, using the Share details be or by forwarding the link / retweeting. 

Also, if you’d like further updates on our work on Advance Decision-Making and Mental Health, follow me on Twitter.

Tania Gergel

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