This week, national mental health charity Bipolar UK is launching a 10-month challenge to ask people to run, walk, cycle, scoot, or paddle 40,008 km/24,860 miles, the equivalent distance from the North to South Pole, to encourage understanding about what bipolar is – and is not.
The Pole to Pole Challenge – representing the extreme highs and lows that people living with bipolar can experience – will run for 10 months with people living with bipolar, as well as their friends, family and colleagues, being asked to sign up to help the charity collectively travel across the globe before World Bipolar Day (March 30, 2024).
Kicking off the challenge is CEO of Bipolar UK, Simon Kitchen, who said: “This Mental Health Awareness Week, I will be walking 9.5km along Hadrian’s Wall in the Northeast.
“Each kilometre represents the average number of years it takes to get a diagnosis of bipolar – something we are actively campaigning to reduce.
“There is still so much misunderstanding about what bipolar is and many people don’t realise that, if someone has access to the right medication and support, they can have extended periods of stability and live a full and meaningful life.
“This challenge is a way to raise awareness – and vital funds – about bipolar and provide hope that you can thrive with the condition. It does not need to stand in the way of you achieving your goals.
“I look forward to finding out about all the weird and wonderful ways people will contribute their time to getting us, kilometre by kilometre, from Pole to Pole.”
The challenge has already garnered international interest with Bipolar UK ambassadors including actresses April Kelley and Natasha Rea and songwriter Nicky Chinn pledging to add kilometres to the collective total.
Bipolar UK is working alongside Rotary with whom they have a partnership to reach and support more people affected by the condition. Rotary clubs and members from across Great Britain and Ireland will be getting involved – some Rotary members will team up with Bipolar UK volunteers for a local challenge, others will walk the kilometres from their club to the next club – all taking the opportunity to promote Bipolar UK’s vital services along the way.
Gordon McInally, who will be inaugurated as Rotary International president in July 2023 and who is an ambassador for Bipolar UK said: “This partnership will help Rotary members across Great Britain and Ireland to understand more about bipolar, its symptoms and what support is available.
“Together, we can help shine a spotlight on bipolar and on the excellent work of Bipolar UK, helping us signpost people to their comprehensive support services so they can receive a formal diagnosis.
“People can and do live full and rewarding lives with bipolar, but the first step is accessing the right support.”
Bipolar UK will share virtual postcards to highlight key milestones along the way, including Greenwich in London, Valencia in Spain, Accra in Ghana, Null Island in the Atlantic Ocean and the finish line at their London office.
To find out more and to register, click here.