A charity based in Paisley welcomed a breakfast visit from the Scottish Government's Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport.

Maree Todd was joined by Alastair Cook, Principal Medical Officer for Mental Health, at Bipolar Scotland's office on Wednesday, November 29.

During the visit, the pair were presented with statistics relating to the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and heard directly from people with lived experience of the condition.

Those who spoke at the meetings provided honest, frank accounts of their lives before and after their bipolar diagnosis, the treatments available, and the issues around diagnosis time.

Bipolar Scotland's chair Dr Mark-Paul Buckingham, who lives with the condition himself, said: "Bipolar can be an incredibly distressing and isolating condition.

The Gazette:

"People diagnosed with bipolar are around 20 times more likely to commit suicide than the corresponding rate in the general population – and this is the figure for those who have received a diagnosis.

"We don't of course have any way of knowing about the numbers who died by suicide while waiting for psychiatric assessment.

"Alongside the human cost, the cost to the economy of a single suicide is astronomical, an estimated £1.67million. 

"By investing in training for GPs, and preventative treatments such as the holistic support offered by Bipolar Scotland, we can save lives and offer hope."

Bipolar Scotland aims to assemble a working group that will put together training for all frontline staff based on lived experience of bipolar disorder, to sit alongside the established medical model.

At the meeting, the charity sought assurance from Ms Todd that the Scottish Government would prioritise funding for third-sector organisations supporting those with severe and enduring mental health conditions.

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Jayne Laidlaw, CEO of Bipolar Scotland, said: "We are appalled that the diagnostic process is still taking so long. 

"9.8 years is the average in Scotland but amongst our members are people who waited 40 years for a diagnosis, and whose world fell apart in the meantime. 

"Once you have the right treatment the transformation is amazing: we work within communities to offer peer-to-peer support, which has been proven to be particularly effective alongside the correct medical care. 

"With the right support, and an early diagnosis, people can live well and enjoy a good life: it's our mission to make that happen."

Information about Bipolar Scotland can be found at www.bipolarscotland.org.uk.