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New campaign tackles relapse

SANE starts new initiative to warn against the impact of relapse in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

A new campaign aimed at highlighting the importance of relapse prevention in the long-term management of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder has been launched by mental health charity, SANE.

Think Twice has been launched after results from a survey conducted by SANE revealed that almost 70 per cent of the 108 people surveyed (Think Twice service users survey) had experienced at least one relapse, while 60 per cent have experienced two or more, despite the importance placed on relapse prevention by psychiatrists.

The campaign emphasises that preventing relapse is one of the most important goals in the long-term management of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It also looks at the positive effect education can have in helping people to understand their condition.

ìBy providing information and practical advice Think Twice will support people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. With more awareness of the causes and consequences of relapse, we hope that patients will be able to better manage their illness and discuss their own choice of treatments with their families and care teams, so they can get well and stay well,î said Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE.

With each relapse it becomes more difficult to regain control the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which can have a significant impact on future prognosis.

Some 93 per cent of survey respondents said they worried about the possibility of future relapses, with one in five admitting that they are constantly concerned.

Think Twice also revealed that 83 per cent of respondents are unable to work following a relapse, while 78 per cent have relationship problems with friends and family. Almost three-quarters of respondents said they had experienced self-destructive behaviour, with 28 per cent reporting that they get in trouble with the police. In addition, 61 per cent said they had to be hospitalised following a relapse.

The cost to the NHS of relapses is also significant as the need for medical resources and inpatient care increases. In schizophrenia, for example, the average cost of a relapse is ?10,950 over six months, while the estimated cost of treatment for someone who has not experienced a relapse is ?2,532.

As part of the campaign, two complementary handbooks have been developed aimed at boosting communication between mental health teams and those suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A patient handbook, available to download at www.thinktwicecampaign.org, provides a step-by-step guide to understanding, identifying and preventing relapse. In addition, it acts as a tool for recording key information towards the development of personalised steps for coping with relapse.

Think Twice was developed in partnership with Lilly UK, which has also provided funding for the programme.

30th September 2008

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