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Why a World Bipolar Day?

IN THE March 28 ISSUE

FROM THE 2015 Articles,
andMental Health,
andMuffy Walker
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by Muffy Walker, MSN, MBA

Muffy Walker, of the International Bipolar Foundation, has written several mental health articles for KRL.internationalbipolarbiggerlogo

World Diabetes Day, World Cancer Day, and even World Egg Day. And now, drum roll please, World Bipolar Day (WBD). WBD is a day to bring about awareness of bipolar disorder. It is the brainchild of Dr. Pichet Udomratn, a member of the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD), who collaborated with International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) and International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) to bring his idea to fruition. Now each year, WBD will be celebrated on March 30, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as probably having bipolar disorder.

The vision of WBD is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and to encourage social education. Through international collaboration, the goal of World Bipolar Day is to bring the world population information about bipolar disorder that will educate and improve sensitivity towards the illness.

But a bipolar day? Are there that many people with it to support having its own day?

There are 450 million people worldwide with mental illnesses. Of those, 27 million have bipolar disorder, which is three times the number of all the diabetes cases, and ten times all the cancer cases, combined.

Why, then, do we hear so much in the news, on television, and in conversations about other diseases like diabetes and cancer, but rarely anything about bipolar disorder?

Mental illnesses have historically been misunderstood, feared, and therefore stigmatized. The stigma is due to a lack of education, mis-education, false information, ignorance, or a need to feel superior. Its effects are especially painful and damaging to one’s self-esteem. It leaves people with mental illnesses feeling like outcasts from society. Whether the perceived stigma is real or not, it is the subjective interpretation that affects the person’s feelings of belonging. Like most stigmatized groups, there are many myths surrounding mental illness.

Enter WBD. Organizations around the world are invited to participate in this awareness campaign. Some will host educational conferences for the public, or hold depression screenings; some will hold news interviews, and others, like AND, are coordinating a 5K run. IBPF, which has been collecting photos of people extolling who they are outside of their bipolar disorders, will be sharing hundreds of the photos throughout the day through social media website.

Dispelling myths, teaching the signs and symptoms, sharing resources, and pointing out healthy living techniques will be imparted for all to use. WBD is not about “them,” it’s for everyone. We all know someone. Join us!

Check out KRL’s Mental Health section for more mental health related articles.

Muffy Walker was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, PA. She currently resides in Switzerland with her husband John C. Reed and their three sons. In 1983, Walker graduated with a Master’s of Science in Psychiatric Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked in the mental health field for over 18 years until she moved to California when she obtained her MBA with a focus in marketing from the University of California-Irvine. Walker is the founder and President of International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF). After learning that her youngest son had Bipolar Disorder, Walker joined other mental health boards and ultimately started IBPF. She has served on a plethora of boards including Children’s Hospital, Kids Korps USA, NeighborHelp, ChildHelp USA, and has dedicated the past 10 years of her life championing the education of the public about mental illness.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Sandy DeWittNo Gravatar March 30, 2015 at 1:40pm

wish I could have known this soon. I have suffered from bipolar disease for 40 years. I now am executive director of a peer support center for people with mental illness.

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