World Bipolar Day: Strength for today, Hope for tomorrow

In order to address the disparity in how bipolar disorder is viewed in different parts of the world, the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD), the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) came together to work on the concept of a World Bipolar Day. March 30th, Van Goths birthday, was chosen. Below each share their insights into Bipolar Disorder and whats currently being done to treat and prioritise it across the world. 

Ashley Jacobs is the Director of Operations for the International Bipolar Foundation, which was founded in June 2007 in San Diego, California by four parents with children affected by bipolar disorder. Well aware of the trauma that bipolar disorder causes for consumers and their families, these parents felt compelled to do something constructive to help. Here she discusses the role of the IBPF: 

According to the World Health Organization, 60 million people worldwide have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder 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. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

Bipolar disorder is often either not recognized or misdiagnosed, resulting in unnecessary suffering for years before being properly diagnosed and treated. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness that must be addressed and treated throughout a person’s life, just like any other chronic illness, such as diabetes or heart disease.

International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) was founded in 2007 by four mothers of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Their desire to ensure a better future for their children and others affected by this illness resulted in an organization with the mission to

  • Improve understanding and treatment of bipolar disorder through research;
  • Promote care and support resources for individuals and caregivers; and
  • Erase stigma through education.

Our educational programs are designed for people living with bipolar disorder and their caregivers, so they can better understand and manage their health; mental health professionals, to learn more about recognizing and treating bipolar disorder in their patients; and the public, to raise awareness about the realities of mental health.

Two of the programs we provide for mental health practitioners are our Healthy Living book and our Webinar Series.

Our book, Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder, is an overview of all of the aspects of living with bipolar disorder and includes chapters on treatment modalities, nutrition, natural treatments, and much more. It is a useful starting point to learn the basics about bipolar disorder. It is recommended for practitioners as well as those living with bipolar disorder and their caregivers. The book is available in 5 translations, has 10 country-specific chapters, and many more are in progress.

Our Webinar Series features topics by experts on different areas of bipolar disorder. We have a live webinar almost every week which is then recorded and posted to our website. The webinars go in depth on specific topics and are designed to help you learn more about different treatment options and developing research trends. Topics include dialectical behavior therapy, nutrient therapy, genetic counseling, and much more.

To learn more about International Bipolar Foundation and our programs visit

Manuel Sánchez de Carmona is President of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders,launched at the 3rd International Conference on Bipolar Disorders, in Pittsburgh, PA, June 17, 1999.  He shares the actions his organization have undertaken over the last 15 years to become a major source for emerging research and clinical data on bipolar disorders and the only bipolar focused, research-oriented Society working to bring this data to patients, families, and other mental health professionals working on the front lines of bipolar care:

Bipolar disorder is a severe and debilitating mental illness, which has in the past decade started to receive attention from society, researchers, clinicians and governments.  The nature of its symptomatology compromise functionality and quality of life for the affected individuals. The costs and burden of bipolar disorders affect every country in the world. It is estimated that the global prevalence of bipolar disorder is between 1 and 2%, and according to the World Health Organization, is the 6th leading cause of disability in the world.

In response to the need for further awareness, education and research, the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) was created sixteen years ago.  With a growing membership representing 44 countries and its Board and Committees comprised of world key opinion leaders, the ISBD today is a leading mental health non-profit society that interacts on different levels of the community. 

In order to address the disparity of how bipolar disorder is viewed in different parts of the world and to decrease the stigma associated with the illness that is a barrier to early diagnosis and effective treatment, the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) in collaboration with the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD) and the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), came together to work on the concept of a world bipolar day.

Next March 30th, World Bipolar Day will be celebrating its second year.  The date was chosen after the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as probably having had bipolar disorder.  The vision of World Bipolar Day is to bring global awareness to bipolar disorders and eliminate social stigma. Unfortunately the person that suffers from bipolar disorder has to endure social stigma, adding this discrimination and alienation to the clinical consequences of the illness.  

We believe that bringing to the world population information about bipolar disorders will educate and improve sensitivity towards the illness.  It has been proven that education improves the general care of the patient and may be key in preventing relapses and directly contributes to a better quality of life. 

Bipolar disorder treatment, as many chronic medical illnesses, requires a lifelong involvement of the patient and their significant others in its daily care.  Early recognition of any symptom that may precede an acute crisis is only achieved after careful education and training in the characteristics of bipolar disorder.  If the patient’s environment acknowledges the illness and is sensible to their needs, this will represent a crucial factor to diminish the burden of accepting the disorder and improve the treatment adherence.

World Bipolar Day is an excellent opportunity to reach out to patients, families and advocacy groups, and invite them to work together on this global project. As President of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, I endorse and support this effort and have already contacted our network of members and Chapters to contribute to this special awareness day. 

As the day draws near, we encourage you to help us promote World Bipolar Day. If you are willing to organize local events or develop any activity related to this project, please share it with us through the WBD Facebook page (

Prof Pichet Udomratn is Chairperson of the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorders, and their focus is “to improve the lives of Asian patients with bipolar disorder. Here is shares their plans for this years World Bipolar Day:

Many countries in Asia have planned to do activities on World Bipolar Day this year such as India, Japan, and Thailand. At this moment we do not have details from these countries, except for Thailand.

In Thailand, there will be activities in Bangkok and Songkhla province.The big event will be in Bangkok.  It is the public education event titled “Understanding Bipolar Disorder” which will be held on 27 March 2015 at Grand Millennium Hotel, Sukhumvit, Bangkok. Many Thai organizations join hand in hand to organize this event, including Psychiatric Association of Thailand, Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry of Thailand, Thai Society for Geriatric Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry, Thai Society for Affective Disorders and Bipolar Friends Club.  Similar activities will also be held at Songklanagarind Hospital which is the university hospital of Prince of Songkla University.

Asian Network of Bipolar Disoder (ANBD) will organize the 7th ANBD Conference at Kyushu University,Fukuoka,Japan on 4 March 2015.  There will also be the 10th ANBD Council Meeting where council members from each country will report planned activities for WBD in their countries. We will later update and keep you informed about WBD activities in Asia.

Photo credit: arne jacobsen, rødovre town hall, 1952-1956
North America
Human rights
Empowerment and service user involvement
Psychosis/bipolar disorder
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