What is bipolar and how can you support a colleague who has been diagnosed?

World Bipolar Day falls on 30th March and aims to bring awareness of bipolar disorder and remove any social stigma of the illness around the world.

Bipolar is a mental health issue that mainly affects your mood and can be life-long. You can experience episodes of mania and depression and your mood changes might give you different levels of energy and change the way you act, which is why bi-polar used to be called manic depression.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe, and they can affect different areas of your life, such as work, school and relationships.

Suspecting or finding out a colleague has bipolar can be hard and make you feel a variety of emotions. People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood shifts combined with erratic behaviour, which can create challenges in the workplace.

The most important thing to do if a colleague has bipolar is to get informed about the illness to help make your work life less overwhelming. This will also put you in a better position to help your co-worker who may be struggling with bipolar disorder.

It is also important to respect their privacy, so that you’re not seen to be gossiping about their illness or oversharing information that they are not comfortable with.

If you notice behavioural changes in your colleague, it might be that they are going through a depressive episode. This can leave your co-worker feeling negative, so it may be helpful to uplift their mood by encouraging them to stay positive and offer support where possible.

It is also important to set boundaries for both of you. Although you might want to support your co-worker as much as you can, boundaries will need to be put in place to protect you both from any upset and unnecessary stress.

Active listening can also be useful when you have a colleague with any mental illness, but in particular with bipolar disorder, as it shows that you are genuinely interested when they share a distressing episode with you.

By supporting a co-worker with bipolar disorder, you will be improving both yours and your colleagues experience at work.

For organisations, we offer a range of mental health training that covers how to manage bipolar disorder and much more. To find out more about all our online courses, visit our online training courses.

You can also contact us on 07584 125665 or email info@bnshe.co.uk to discuss booking, pricing, discounts and for further details.

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