Bipolar Education Programme

The Bipolar Disorder Service at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services provides outpatient, day patient, inpatient and aftercare services. Service users are provided with the appropriate level of care depending on their individual needs.

The Bipolar Education Programme was established over 20 years ago and is unique to the Republic of Ireland. The Programme runs for 13 weeks, offering education and support to individuals and their families in the post-acute (middle) phase of recovery. Feedback from service users and best clinical evidence is incorporated into the programme which is coordinated by a clinical nurse specialist with cognitive therapy training.

The Bipolar Education Programme is a group psycho-education and support programme for service users over the age of 18 diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder (BPAD) - formerly known as manic depression.

Our goal is to provide a service that is timely, relevant and appropriate to the need of the individual by offering psychosocial interventions with proven results that are practical and accessible.

We advocate a collaborative approach to the management of bipolar disorder. Collaborative care is a way for individuals and their family or friends to work together with their clinician to get the best results from treatment. Collaborative care encourages the individual to assume the largest share of responsibility for making treatment work and fosters treatment concordance. Treatment concordance refers to the extent to which the individual, their clinician and support system are in agreement about the care plan.


The Bipolar Education Programme aims to educate participants in the programme users about bipolar disorder and treatment approaches. The programme also teaches methods of recognising and monitoring the occurrence and severity of mood swings and how to generate appropriate response plans. It provides information and guidance on how to recognise and manage risk factors that may trigger mood episodes. The programme aims to support people to adjust to living with an illness that has the potential to reoccur and the need for medium to long term medications. We encourage those in recovery to seek out the help of others and develop a support network around them. We promote treatment concordance and a collaborative approach to care involving the service users, treatment team and family members

The programme is delivered by a multidisciplinary team of mental health professionals and includes a clinical nurse specialist in bipolar disorder, a social worker, psychiatric registrar and a specialist pharmacist.

The programme involves a series of lectures, group discussions and video presentations. Symptom identification, developing plans to maintain wellness and to prevent relapse, education about treatments and day-to-day coping strategies are key elements of this programme. The methods used are consistent with current evidence-based practice in the field of bipolar disorder. Information is taught using a combination of motivational, educational, and cognitive behavioural therapy approaches.

About the Programme

The Bipolar Education Programme is a group based programme that offers educational and supportive interventions in the ‘Post-Acute’ phase of a person’s Bipolar illness, so that a functional and emotional recovery and the development of self-management skills are supported. The sessions are delivered and overseen by clinical Nurses, doctors, pharmacists and social work. Information is based on research findings.

The Programme is open to service users currently in hospital or attending as a day patient. Service users in hospital can meet with the Clinical Nurse specialist in Bipolar disorder prior to discharge. This may be on an individual or group basis.  The aim is to help the person to focus on the next stage of their recovery. Basic information about diagnosis and treatment is offered and barriers to treatment adherence and short term post discharge plans are discussed.

The programme has three day patient Modules - the Facts, the check In Group and Living Well.

The Facts is a focused psycho-education group facilitated by the clinical Nurse Specialist that targets five main areas - illness awareness; adherence to treatment; mood monitoring; sleep hygiene and lifestyle regularity; problem solving and stress management with additional specialist inputs from a Doctor, Pharmacist and Social Worker. The development of self management is a key objective and the active engagement of supporters along the way is encouraged.  This closed group runs for a full day once a week over 6 weeks. 

The check In Group: is an open group providing adjustment support and intervention for service users at all stages of recovery.  Emphasis is placed on approach coping using basic CBT skills. Treatment concordance and a collaborative approach to treatment are advocated. This group runs every five weeks throughout the year.

Living Well is a CBT style group aimed at supporting an emotional recovery using self-compassion and mindfulness to manage over identification with the illness, fear of relapse and self blame. It runs for a full day over eight weeks.


When you come here first it'll be hard to open up but when you do things start to get better.

Des, Service User, age 32

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Bipolar Disorder Leaflet

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