moneyResearch funding for bipolar disorder is just 1.6% of all spend on mental health research and the government needs to increase this, a bipolar charity has said.

Bipolar UK made this call to coincide with Bipolar Awareness Day (October 4), pointing to the fact that, despite more than one million people in the UK having bipolar disorder, only a fraction of mental health research funding is spent on investigating the condition. Mental health research makes up just 6% of all health research funding.

Bipolar is a severe, life-long mental illness. The condition is often misdiagnosed – it takes an average of 10.5 years to receive a correct diagnosis of bipolar in the UK – and treatment is hampered by misunderstanding and stigma.

Professor Allan Young, Centre for Affective Disorders and Bipolar UK trustee, said: “Bipolar is the Cinderella of all Cinderellas in mental health. This enormous disparity is unacceptable. Moreover, this disparity is reflected in the care, support and treatment that people with bipolar receive.”

Suzanne Hudson, chief executive of Bipolar UK, added: “We need to learn from the experiences of severe physical illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. In the past 10 years significant improvements in terms of early diagnosis, treatment and support for many physical illnesses have been made through investment in research. This is not the case for bipolar or mental illness generally. If anything, the gap is widening. It is extremely unfair that tackling mental illness is not given equal attention.”