Are you wanting to stay well, go better and get more out of life with the right treatment, therapy and support. I found myself that getting help makes a difference. It’s no surprise to see that research shows the same result and that NDIS teamwork matters. Getting good help works.
How social work (my baseline training) helps wellbeing, treatment, and recovery of psychosocial ability with NDIS
All the research around the world shows consistently that early support and education for people experiencing psychosocial disability aids adjustment and recovery and improves quality of life outcomes, and longevity and physical health. NDIS understands that and is designed to potentinallly deliver exactly that if you have the right professionals on board. So you are adding years to life as well as more ‘life’ worth living.
How does social work help us in that? Social work considers:
- your physical status
- how well you are able to function
- your psychological health
- your personal relationships
- your family relationships
- your housing accommodation situation
- your financial circumstances
- your legal situation
- the possibility of returning to work or study and your participation in the community
Social workers bring specific skills and knowledge to assess all these considerations so that we can identify and develop a range of interventions to improve your well-being.
Research shows psychological therapies (which I provide) help improve treatment and recovery outcomes
Research has shown psychological therapies (or ‘talking therapies’) such as psychotherapy or counselling as an additional treatment for bipolar disorder (which is accessible under NDIS), alongside medication, reduces the risk of relapse and improve quality of life through:
- assisting acceptance of bipolar disorder
- identifying early warning signs and intervening
- minimising recurrences and hospitalisation
- maintaining adherence to medication plans
- decreasing depressive symptoms
- improving knowledge and skills to manage bipolar disorder
- helping cope with stressful events and family conflicts
- assisting in maintaining regular sleep patterns and daily routines
- improving family relationships, communication and reengaging at work
- reducing drug and alcohol use.
How to create a well-being plan for bipolar, understand your relapse signature, and have family know about early warning signs for best treatment and quicker recovery of well-being (we can work this out).
Understanding your ‘relapse signature’ can help you recognise signs and symptoms that may tell you of a future possible episode of hypomania, mania or depression.
Wellbeing plans can also help your family know about early warning signs, and ensure you get the help you need in difficult times. NDIS supports this intitiave whereas Medicare was not always as possible, flexible or well-funded to support family member’s support and involvment.
Having a ‘wellbeing plan’ is an important psychological tool for maintaining wellness between highs and lows as well as preventing the exacerbation of low-level symptoms into full-blown episodes. You and your team can develop a personalised wellbeing plan to help keep you on track. Wellbeing plans for bipolar disorder include:
- are designed to help people stay well
- identify any triggers and stresses that may cause problems
- develop strategies for coping with stressful situations
- list early warning signs of both highs and lows
- suggest positive lifestyle changes like reducing caffeine and getting regular sleep.
Taking a family focused therapy approach to treatment and recovery for carers and loved ones. (I am a Clinical Member of The Australian Association for Family Therapy and Relationship Coach for improved communication and recovery from an affair)
This therapy generally involves patients and their caregivers having multiple sessions and followup including psychoeducation and problem-solving training, together with enhancing communication skills. Families and carers can learn about early warning signs and help their loved ones maintain a lifestyle while sticking to their treatment plan over the long term. NDIS supports family therapy initiatives like this which evidently make a difference for better outcomes and quicker recovery of life.
Through family psychoeducation you learn about:
- causes of bipolar disorder
- how to identify triggers
- the warning signs of relapse
- medications and possible side-effects
- psychological treatments
- healthy lifestyle changes.
This information helps improve the way individuals and their families successfully manage the condition. Educating caregivers about bipolar disorder can be beneficial even when patients don’t attend sessions.
Taking a team approach for medication and treatment
A team approach works best for staying on track with medications and treatments for managing bipolar disorder. Your team may include your GP, mental health therapist, psychiatrist and family or loved ones. I am happy to be part of that and liaise communication between your team members if necessary. It will always depend on you preferences and instructions if this is to occur.
A team can create a wellbeing plan that helps you stick to prescribed treatments. It helps you and your family know your warning signs, and can minimise impacts of the illness on your everyday life. Other things can assist in helping you manage the disorder and maintain quality of life, including:
- acceptance of the diagnosis of bipolar disorder
- psychoeducation including education of our families or carers
- motivation to stick to a management plan (including medication)
- awareness and self-monitoring of mood
- relapse prevention and management and knowing our relapse triggers
- integrating diagnosis into a sense of self.
Medication is a Conversation.
I talk about medication is a conversation. While I am not a doctor, I am involved in improving the level of conversation people are having with doctors about medication. For example, how well is medication working for you, what’s working well, what’s not working well? How well controlled is your mood with the current medication regime? What side-effects are you dealing with? What are your hopes and goals? Have you talked with your doctor about these things?
And having conversation around things that people may not be aware in terms of being able to increase medication (this being you having a conversation with your doctor that it may not have occurred to you when you’re reviewing the quality of your current mental health) or conversely being able to reduce medication in a planned measured way (again you in consultation with the doctor) but not unilaterally just going off medication and some of the delayed consequences that can occur because of that.
“Did you know” conversations… For example, knowing about possible other medication options gives you options you can talk about with your doctor can be very empowering. Sometimes we don’t receive because we didn’t know to ask, or it wasn’t discussed with us recently.
Medication is not the only thing that makes a difference for people but given that it’s a primary part of treatment for bipolar disorder it’s important that our conversation around this is optimal. And we are feeling heard.