About bipolar disorder, information and suggestions for caregivers (close family, friends, partners or carers)

Bipolar disorder (previously called manic depression) affects not only the life of the person with bipolar but the lives of those who care for them. Close family and friends (bipolar carers or caregivers) can be a primary source of support for a person with bipolar disorder. Please scroll through the topics listed in the menu at the top of this page to select information about bipolar disorder and suggestions for dealing with it that are relevant to you.

Welcome to bipolarcaregivers.org!

We aim to make bipolarcaregivers.org a useful, easily accessible information website for caregivers of people with bipolar disorder. On this website you will find:

Information and suggestions for caregivers about:

  • What is bipolar and  how it is treated and managed.
  • Ways to help a person with bipolar disorder who is 18 years or over.
  • Ways caregivers can take care of themselves, deal with the bipolar disorder and the personal impact it has on them.

Where does the information come from?

The information on bipolarcaregivers.org is based on guidelines for adult caregivers (18 years or over) developed by combining the latest bipolar research with the opinions and consensus of 143 expert caregivers, people with bipolar disorder and clinicians from different countries. This research was conducted at University of Melbourne as part of a PhD project by Lesley Berk under the supervision of Professor Anthony Jorm, Dr Claire Kelly and Dr Seetal Dodd in consultation with Professor Michael Berk. Read more about how the information on bipolarcaregivers.org was selected.

Who sponsored the website?

We would like to thank the National Health and Medical Research Council for the PhD scholarship that funded this research and website. Also, a big thanks to the University of Melbourne’s Department of Psychiatry for the grant that contributed to this research and Orygen Youth Health for providing the infrastructure to carry it out. Lesley Berk and her supervisors have no conflict of interest regarding this website.

More about the bipolarcaregivers.org team

Lesley Berk is an experienced psychologist (MA Clin Psych) and has recently completed a PhD. As a clinician she has worked both with people with bipolar disorder and their families. She previously developed and helped trial a group therapy intervention for people with bipolar disorder. Lesley currently works as a Research Fellow at Deakin University and has an honorary appointment at the University of Melbourne. Tony Jorm (PhD, DSc), a Professorial Fellow in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, is a mental health researcher interested in improving the capacity of the community to take action on mental disorders. Claire Kelly has a PhD and develops and trains members of the public to use Mental Health First Aid guidelines about how to assist a person experiencing a mental health problem or crisis until they access professional help. Seetal Dodd  (PhD, MSc) is an Associate Professor engaged in bipolar disorder research at Deakin University. Michael Berk (PhD, FRANZCP) is Alfred Deakin Professor at Deakin University, and is a psychiatrist with clinical and research expertise in bipolar disorder.

The guide below includes information about bipolar disorder for caregivers (close family, friends, carers)

The information and suggestions on the website are also available in PDF format (see A guide for caregivers of people with bipolar disorder).

Easy to print out information summaries on key topics

See the right hand side of this page for the information summaries.

Artwork by people with mental health problems and their family and friends

Some of the artwork on this site has been contributed by people with mental health problems or their family or friends. The artwork is displayed with their permission and is under copyright. If you would like to know more about any of this artwork or to publish  it elsewhere, please contact Lesley on lberk@unimelb.edu.au, and she will forward your request to the artist.

Please note:

Not all of the information or suggestions may be relevant to you. We invite you to select what interests you and to return to visit the site to find other information in the future.

Finding what works to deal with the bipolar disorder of a loved one can be a trial and error process. Family and friends need toacknowledge and give themselves credit for what they are already doing to help the person and deal with their situation.”

Other matters

The information on bipolarcaregivers.org is NOT a replacement for medical advice or counseling. We strongly recommend that you or the person you care for discuss issues related to treatment with a clinician.

Although the text on this site is covered by copyright (including the Guide for caregivers and the summaries), you can freely reproduce it for non-profit purposes provided the source is acknowledged.

For all enquiries regarding this website please contact Lesley at lberk@unimelb.edu.au

All the best,

The bipolarcaregivers.org team