Julie is a qualified counsellor and volunteer at Bipolar UK. She’s also an NCMH Research Champion, helping to spread the word about our research. This is her story:
Hi, my name is Julie. I’m 46, a qualified social work and counsellor and have a wonderful son, who is 17 years old. My biggest claim to fame is once being given a lift by Al Murray!
I’m actively involved in the mental health community and do a lot of voluntary work with Bipolar UK. I volunteer as a mentor for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I am one of two service users that sit on the National Partnership Board for Welsh governments together for mental health. I’m a member of Hafal’s Expert Leadership Panel and the Cardiff & Vale UHB Psychological therapies management committee. I’m also a Time to Change Wales champion!
During my 20s I spent a year at art school and then did a degree in Religious Studies. It was around this time that I first became unwell, and I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. A few years later, following the birth my son, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
About three years ago my psychiatrist told me about the Bipolar Education Programme Cymru (BEPC), a psychoeducation programme for people with bipolar. I was lucky enough to be in the very first cohort, and this is where I learned about NCMH and their research.
I’ve had some really bad experiences with my mental health and there’s still so much we don’t understand about what causes these issues, so I was very keen to help with the research in anyway I could.
It was a really easy process and only took around half an hour. It involves a researcher coming to your home, asking a few questions and taking a blood sample. You can talk about any concerns you may have before-hand, and you can withdraw at any time.
The researcher that visited me was lovely, she really made me feel at ease. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to take a blood sample from me, so she left a kit behind and my CPN visited later that week and took the sample instead.
After taking part myself, I encouraged my mum to take part too. I hope to inspire more people to get involved – the more the better!
Your small contribution could make a huge difference in helping researchers better understand the causes of mental ill health and develop more effective treatments