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Bipolar UK Supports Big Mood

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The UK’s only national charity dedicated to supporting people affected by bipolar has been working with the production team behind the new Channel 4 series, Big Mood, to help guide authenticity around the storyline.

The first episode of the eagerly awaited six-part comedy is due to air on Channel 4 on Thursday 28 March.

Written and created by Camilla Whitehill, the story follows Maggie (played by Nicola Coughlan [Bridgerton, Derry Girls]) and Eddie (played by Lydia West [It’s A Sin, Inside Man]) through a series of chaotic events after Maggie’s bipolar disorder makes an unwelcome return.

Bipolar UK’s policy and communications manager, Sarah Owen, said: “It has been a privilege for us and one of our clinical advisory panels, Professor Guy Goodwin, to answer the production team’s questions about the condition. We’ve been lucky enough to see a preview of the series, and we think it will be a huge hit.

“The team behind the series was really open to our support and advice, approaching what can be an extremely complex condition in an open and sensitive way. They also managed to capture many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the series.

Sarah Owen added: “There is an urgent need for people to talk about bipolar. What better way of sparking more conversations than through a primetime TV show like Big Mood?”

Support for Big Mood comes on the back of other requests for input on scripts for a range of TV soaps highlighting what it can be like to live with bipolar disorder, including Eastenders, Hollyoaks, and Doctors.

The rise of public interest in bipolar disorder has coincided with a report delivered to parliament 18 months ago calling for changes to address the 9.5-year average delay to diagnosis, marking a new era of awareness around bipolar.

Sarah Owen added: “The bipolar-related storylines we’ve advised on have been varied. We believe there’s real intent from some of the media to open up a wider conversation on the condition. It has been great for us to help the writers reflect character experiences that represent the condition as accurately as possible.  

“The Hollyoaks storyline, for example, saw Cindy, played by Stephanie Waring, struggle with bipolar symptoms over an extended sub-plot around her mental health.

“Having experienced a relapse, the storyline came to the fore when Cindy began to hallucinate and experience symptoms of mania. Our team, including those with lived experience of bipolar, were able to advise on not just practical suggestions around medication, but also the accuracy of the character’s experience.

“It’s so important that people understand the true nature of bipolar and that, with the right medication, lifestyle and support, people can often live well with the condition.

“The more bipolar storylines included in popular TV shows, the greater the awareness and understanding of the condition will be.

“While TV shows can never fully portray what it’s like to live with such a complex and often misunderstood condition, we are delighted that these primetime programmes are working with us to do their best to ensure the condition is not misrepresented in any way.”

Bipolar is a severe, lifelong mental illness characterised by significant mood swings from manic highs to suicidal depression. It affects everyone differently and currently takes an average of 9.5 years to diagnose.

At least one million people in the UK have bipolar. That is one in fifty people. Yet it is estimated that 56% of people with bipolar disorder do not have a diagnosis.

Bipolar UK has a variety of resources to support people living with bipolar and their loved ones, helping them to recognise the risks and manage their condition well.

Get help from their 1-1 support line, eCommunity, and support groups. Read their “Understanding Bipolar” webpage. You can also take their 20-minute eLearning course.

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