Mental Health and Justice Commission - Covid 19 update

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, I have had a break from working on my Mental Health and Justice  commission. Everything being so uncertain made it hard to find a way forward with it. My plan had been to run a series of eight workshops with people who had experienced bipolar, working together to experiment with sculpture techniques and create new work collaboratively. Of course this is no longer possible. Resuming work on the commission in this new world we find ourselves in, requires a whole new approach.

I have been back to the beginning and returned to the research materials of the researchers I have been working with at Kings College. I have been reading research papers and data from a recent survey by Bipolar UK which has raised many questions for me. I will blog more about this in later posts.

In some ways, having bipolar has given me tools to cope with lockdown in a way others may not have. Like many others with mental illnesses, I know the importance of looking after your wellbeing in difficult times - maintaining routine, sleeping well, going for exercise. As someone who experiences some social anxiety, I have to confess that social distancing was initially even been a bit of a relief, although less so as time goes on! There are also risks for people with bipolar - I have been worried about getting hold of medication, as there were delays at my pharmacy due to people over ordering and stockpiling.

Covid-19 will have an effect on people with bipolar in many ways. Advanced directives will become more important than ever with an increased likelihood of being treated by unfamiliar clinicians who do not know your history, should you become unwell. An advance directive would aid clinicians in understanding what works for you and what doesn't, and expresses your wishes in a clear way.  For more on this, I recommend this article by Tania Gergel, one of the wonderful researchers at Kings College I have been working with.