Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949 to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in all walks of life and to celebrate recovery from mental illness. Within our toolkit you will find lived experience blogs, webinars, stories of hope and recovery, clinical resources, and more! Learn valuable wellness tips, shared strengths and understand how vulnerability can improve your wellness too!



Living with Self-Stigma is Like Driving with the Brake On  – “My condition sometimes makes me irritable, impatient, hyper, or depressed, but that’s not who I am as a human. As a human, I am kind, loving, generous, funny, and intelligent. I choose to let these roles and traits, not my condition, define me. Remember, you are so much more than your diagnosis. You are a beautiful human.”

Why Seeking Help for Bipolar Disorder Can Be a Sign of Strength – “Deciding to publicly share my bipolar disorder story is a serious matter, but something I had to do. I argue that seeking mental health treatment should be destigmatized and dealt with the same way our culture deals with cancer, diabetes, or a broken leg.”

Maslow’s (Bipolar Disorder) Hierarchy of Needs – “Being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder can sometimes feel scary, alienating, and isolating. We recommend connecting with local advocacy organizations to meet like-minded individuals. Fostering a sense of community can provide a sense of empowerment for individuals living with bipolar disorder and their caregivers.”

Disclosing Bipolar Disorder – “I am extremely lucky. On the day that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I knew I had at least 5 calls to make, receiving nothing but empathy and support on the other end of the phone. Beyond that though, who do you tell? When do you tell them? “

How Seeking Hobbies Can Help Manage. Bipolar Disorder – “Certain hobbies and self-care strategies can make a profound difference in an individual’s ability to manage bipolar disorder. Incorporating these into life, even in small amounts, can really add up to make mood swings more manageable and interrupt life a bit less.”

Unlocking My Potential – “In closing, I want to say that exploring creative outlets has been a lifeline for me. It’s helped me to navigate the ups and downs of bipolar disorder and find a sense of joy and purpose in my life. I encourage anyone struggling with mental health challenges to consider the power of creativity.”

Tips to Help You Never Run Out of Meds Again – “Now that I’ve been taking my meds at the same times every day for almost a year, the habit is ingrained in me, and I rarely miss my meds. And on the rare occasion that I do miss a morning dose, for example, my pillbox lets me know because the pills are still in the am slot.”

Exercising with Depression: Simplifying Fitness for Mental Wellness – “You don’t have to drive down to a gym to get some exercise. There are a plethora of low-effort, high-impact exercises you can do at home – even from your bed.”

Allowing Myself to Own My Experiences – “Coming from a small town in Southern Africa, it comes to no surprise that my knowledge on mental health was limited. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of its existence. I would only hear different adult individuals refer to such subjects as incredibly taboo.”

Mental Wellness is More Than Pills & Therapy – “When I was initially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I in the early 2000’s, there was not much explained to me about managing the symptoms of the disorder, other than the psychiatrist prescribing me with a couple medications”



Overcoming Adversity to Live My Best Life with Bipolar Disorder – In this webinar, Serena shares her story of being diagnosed with bipolar I disorder 32 years ago, and what she has experienced, learned, gained, and implemented since then to overcome adversity and live her best life.

Lessons Learned From My Journey with Bipolar Disorder – Devika Bhushan, the former California Acting Surgeon General, candidly shares her lived experience with bipolar disorder. Gain valuable insights as she reflects on her journey and imparts the lessons she has learned.

Resiliency Strategies for Recovery From Serious Mental Illness – Researchers Carissa Coudray, Piper Meyer-Kalos, and Anne Williams-Wengerd, from the University of Minnesota, share their findings on resiliency in individuals experiencing Bipolar Disorder, as well as what resiliency could look like for family members of individuals with Bipolar Disorder.

Tips For Recovering and Rebuilding After Bipolar Episodes – Dr. Sheri Johnson and Jake Volo discuss recovery and living well with bipolar disorder. They will cover topics such as rebuilding after an episode, living well between episodes, and limiting the lifestyle damage from episodes.

Overcoming Self-Stigma in Bipolar Disorder, From a Doctor with Lived Experience – Watch as Dr. Andrea Vassilev discusses what self-stigma is, how it happens, what the outcomes are, and what to do about it. We hope that you will leave this webinar with an understanding of how valuable you truly are.


Faces of Hope and Recovery



Bipolar I

“Now I work as a teacher, study Law, and volunteer. I love my job, the kids and teens I work with are pure joy to me. I live by myself, and handle all the micro and macro things on my own. It wasn’t easy getting back on track after being released from the hospital, but I did it through patience and perseverance.

What I’ve been through made me change my social circle and understand who is there for me and who isn’t. Moreover, I started to look at life differently, and I now appreciate each simple thing I experience and pass through.”

Read more.



Bipolar II

Celebrate yourself for surviving and getting here; this is too often overlooked. Forgive yourself for your past, Bipolar was in control. Do take accountability and apologize. Educate yourself as much as possible on your illness, medications, moods and triggers.

Stay close to anyone who loves and supports you for who you are, and honest in any situation, these people are invaluable. Try to find a therapist who specializes in bipolar and stick to therapy even when you’re doing well.”

Read more.



Bipolar I

“I’m now 10 months sober, I’m cooking meals, I’m brushing my teeth, I’m connecting with people nearly every day, I’m back living on my own, I landed my dream job as a home health physical therapist assistant, and I have HOPE for my future….. I never thought I would get out of the hole I was in. Quitting drinking is probably what saved me. It was messing with my medication and not allowing me to be stable; thus, my whole life was thrown off and unmanageable.”

Read more.

Additional Resources

Patient and Family Guide to the CANMAT and ISBD Guidelines on the Management of Bipolar Disorder – This guide aims to promote a more consistent collaboration between patients, their families, and healthcare professionals so that informed decisions can be made based on the latest information about treatment.

Healthy Living with Bipolar DisorderIn this free book you’ll find clinical information from psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, psychologists, therapists, social workers, and others. You will also find stories from real people who share how they survive and thrive with bipolar disorder!

Do I have Bipolar Disorder?

The Mood Disorder Questionnaire – The Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MSQ) was developed by a team of psychiatrists, researchers, and consumer advocates to address the need for timely and accurate evaluation of bipolar disorder. This questionnaire is not intended to replace the opinion of a healthcare professional.

Signs of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe.

Bipolar disorder typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, some people have their first symptoms during childhood, and some develop them late in life. It is often not recognized as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Here is good news: bipolar disorder is very treatable, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

  • Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
  • Excessively “high,” overly good, euphoric mood
  • Extreme irritability
  • Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
  • Distractibility, can’t concentrate well
  • Little sleep needed
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities and powers
  • Poor judgment
  • Spending sprees
  • A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
  • Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
  • Denial that anything is wrong

A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with three or more of the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for 1 week or longer. If the mood is irritable, four additional symptoms must be present.

  • Poor appetite or eating too much
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Nervousness and worry
  • Loss of interest in and withdrawal from usual activities
  • Feelings of sadness that don’t go away
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of sadness, worthlessness or guilt
  • Inability to think or concentrate
  • Repeated thoughts of death or suicide
  • Chronic pain or other physical problems that don’t respond to treatment
  • Increased risk-taking behavior, including reckless driving or substance abuse

You Can Lead a Stable, Happy, and Healthy Life with Bipolar Disorder!

Living with bipolar disorder isn’t easy, but there are resources available that can help you manage and cope with symptoms, prevent and rebound from mood episodes, and help you achieve your wellness goals. We are here to help and to provide you with information for you to learn more about living with bipolar disorder.

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