Seeking help for bipolar disorder
It's important to seek help to manage bipolar disorder. There are effective treatments and professionals who can help, and you can feel better. With the right treatment, the vast majority of people with bipolar disorder are able to live productive lives.
Some people may have suicidal thoughts when they are very worried and things are too hard and painful. If you feel that life is not worth living, it's really important to seek immediate help. With help, you can overcome these thoughts and stay safe.
Help is available
If your life is in danger call emergency services:
- Emergency Australia - 000
- Emergency New Zealand - 111
You are not alone. There is always someone to hear your pain and problems, and to help you keep safe.
Lifeline Counselling (24 /7)
- Lifeline Australia - 13 11 14
- Lifeline New Zealand - 0800 543 354
Men's Line Australia - 1300 78 99 78
Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800
Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467
You can also:
- talk to someone you trust
- visit a hospital emergency department
- contact your GP, a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
The best place to start to get help is by checking in with your doctor
GPs see patients with mental health symptoms and can connect you to the best mental health professionals and resources to help you.
General practitioners can ensure their patients with bipolar disorder have all of their physical health needs met. Your GP is a key person to coordinate care with other services.
For more information about different health professionals go to our seeking help for depression section.
The Black Dog Institute has support groups for people with bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions.
Wellbeing groups for people with bipolar disorder
This is an 8-week group program focusing on psychoeducation, wellbeing strategies, and support for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Find out more about the Wellbeing Group.
The REACH Program is a 9-week psychoeducational wellbeing group. It helps participants with depression or bipolar disorder manage their illness and stay well. The program is based on the principles of:
- fostering strengths
- dealing with loss and grief
- identifying early warning signs and triggers
- wellbeing strategies
- nurturing support networks
- creating a unique wellbeing plan.
Eligibility criteria for participants. Participants must be:
- over 18 years old
- diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder, for a minimum of one year
- willing to participate in a group setting
- committed to attending the 9 weekly sessions
- accepting of their illness
- motivated to implement personal change strategies.
The Optimism mental health apps are designed to increase your understanding of all the things that affect your mental health. They help you detect patterns in your health and develop strategies to manage depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions.
Find out more at findingoptimism.com.
This app helps you track your moods and emotions, and everything else that can affect how you feel. It will help you understand what causes your emotions to change, such as sleep, exercise, medication and stress.
This mood tracking app for Android and iPhone lets you keep notes of your overall wellbeing, and record your thoughts and experiences.
This personalised self-help program for phone, computer or tablet, was developed by the Black Dog Institute. MyCompass helps you learn new ways to deal with thoughts, feelings and behaviours that cause your trouble.
Find out more at mycompass.org.au
Black Dog Institute Bipolar Disorders Clinic
Our bipolar disorders clinic provides a consultancy service to health professionals (e.g. psychiatrists, general practitioners, psychologists) who are managing a patient with bipolar disorder and require a review of the diagnosis, a comprehensive review of the case and/or directions for better management of the patient.
Our detailed assessment will give a refined diagnosis, provide management suggestions (concerning medications and psychological treatment), and provide advice to help the patient return to a productive lifestyle.
The clinic does not take over patient management, this remains with the referring doctor. Following consultation, clinic specialists will write to the referring doctor outlining suggested management options.
Useful research papers
- Geddes, J.R. & Miklowitz, D.J. (2013). Treatment of bipolar disorder, Lancet, 381, 1672–1682.
- Phillips, M.L. & Kupfer, D.J. (2013). Bipolar diagnosis: challenges and future directions, Lancet, 381, 1663–1671.
- Grande, I., Berk, M., Birmacher, B. & Vieta, E. (2016). Bipolar disorder, Lancet, 387, 1561-1572.
- Mahli, G.S., Bassett, D., Boyce, P., Byrant, R., Fitzegerald, P.B., Fritz, K., Hopwood, M., Lyndon, B., Mulder, R., Murray, G., Porter, R., & Singh, A.B. (2015). Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists clinical practice guidelines for mood disorders, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49(12), 1087-1206.