Many of the services provided by a leading bipolar charity could be forced to close due to a funding shortfall.
Bipolar UK’s chief executive, Suzanne Hudson, has said the charity "desperately needs" to raise at least £100,000 in the next few weeks to continue providing a wide range of services.
More than 1 million people in the UK have bipolar, and though Bipolar UK is a small charity, its help and information services are vital for those individuals whose risk of suicide is increased by up to 20 times through having the condition.
The charity directly supports more than 65,000 individuals every year through self-help groups, a mentoring service, a youth service and a web-based discussion forum for those affected by the severe mood swings that come with bipolar.
With high-profile names like Stephen Fry and Sinead O’Connor, as well as Bipolar UK patron Bill Oddie, openly talking about their own experiences, an increasing number of people have contacted the charity in the last year and BBC nature presenter Oddie fears any cutbacks could have "tragic consequences".
“The public could be forgiven for thinking that bipolar only affects celebrities!” he said. “The truth is that this severe illness can and does affect anyone and everyone, but only the famous faces get the publicity. If the services of Bipolar UK are diluted or lost, the consequences will literally be tragic.”
The World Health Organisation has identified bipolar as one of the top causes of lost years of life and health in 15 to 44-year-olds, and it takes an average of 10.5 years to receive a correct diagnosis for bipolar in the UK.
“The sad irony is that this funding crisis comes at a time when bipolar is beginning to be understood,” said Hudson. “As a result more individuals and families are finding the courage to seek our support. 2012 was unprecedented in terms of the number of individuals contacting us for help and accessing our services. It is increasingly the case that individuals’ first contact with us is at a time of crisis involving intervention with emergency services.”
Professor Nick Craddock, from Cardiff University School of Medicine, added: "Bipolar UK has represented and served those with bipolar disorder for more than a quarter of a century. With increasing awareness and understanding of bipolar, we need Bipolar UK now more than ever. It is vital that it does not become a victim of the current challenging financial environment."
To make a donation call Bipolar UK on 020 7931 6480, click on www.bipolaruk.org.uk or text BIPO33 £3 to 70070.