Charity Bipolar UK has launched a groundbreaking survey to mark Bipolar Awareness Day (7 October), which is the first to give individuals and their families the opportunity to influence research into the causes, diagnosis, treatment and care of the condition.
Suzanne Hudson, chief executive of Bipolar UK, says the responses will be used to identify the top 10 unanswered questions about bipolar and inform future research priorities.
"We are delighted to be involved with this critically important survey, the results of which will benefit future generations of families affected by bipolar," she said.
More than a million people in the UK have bipolar and thousands more are still undergoing assessment. On average, there are 3.5 misdiagnoses before a correct diagnosis is given and on average it takes 10.5 years to get a correct diagnosis.
Bipolar impacts men and women across all ages and ethnicities, but is still largely misunderstood and its impact can be devastating. Bipolar increases the risk of suicide by up to 20 times.
Currently, mental health makes up just 6% of the total spent on medical research annually, despite accounting for 23% of the disease burden in the UK according to The Centre for Economic Performance’s Mental Health Policy Group. Experts believe only a fraction of this funding is invested into research on bipolar.
Dr Sophie Petit-Zeman, director of patient involvement at the National Institute for Health Research at Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, added: "It is often the case that the research agenda is determined by the drug industry or researchers, rather than being informed by patients and those who care for them. This survey will provide vitally important information to direct research in the years ahead."
The survey has been developed by the James Lind Alliance Bipolar Priority Setting Partnership, which includes Bipolar UK, other organisations and service users. Results of the survey are planned for release in July 2015.
The survey can be accessed at: www.bipolaruk.org.uk/bipolar-awareness-day