Skip to main content

Updated : August 1, 2022 2.5 mins read

Bipolar | Support for professionals

Updated : August 1, 2022 2.5 mins read

Article Bipolar

Up to 3% of the Scottish population are thought to be living with bipolar with the average onset being between 15 – 19 years old.

Bipolar is a serious mental health condition which can be difficult for young people to understand, especially if they don’t have the right support and treatment.

Signs a young person might have bipolar

Bipolar is characterised by two opposite states; mania and depressive episodes. A person can experience both states, mixed or just one depending on the type of bipolar they have. You can find out more about types and episodes.

Signs that a young person might have bipolar include:

  • Extremes in mood which can last for days, weeks or move from one to the other quickly
  • Explosive behaviour which can be destructive
  • Impulsivity, racing thoughts, unable to concentrate or focus
  • Jumping from one activity or project to another
  • Periods of really low mood
  • Missing appointments or periods of being absent
  • Risk taking behaviour or daredevil like behaviour
  • Pressured speech
  • Inappropriate behaviour, including over sexualised
  • Grandiose beliefs
  • Experiencing delusions or hallucinations
  • Using drugs and alcohol
  • Under stress or pressure at school, home or work

Supporting a young person with bipolar

If you work closely with the young person, they might want to share their recovery or treatment plan with you. This will give you an idea of triggers and signs that they might be experiencing an episode of mania or depression. It may also include who to call if you are concerned for their safety.

Other ways to support a young person with bipolar:

  • Learn about bipolar so you can understand their condition more
  • Try to be understanding if you think they are in a manic episode
  • Monitor any signs that their mania may become severe and raise concerns if you are worried about their safety or mental state
  • Make allowances as far as reasonable and appropriate. For example rearrange appointments if you know they are low in mood or allow them to re-submit work if they have missed deadlines
  • Encourage them to seek help if they haven’t spoken to anyone about their mental health

Useful contacts

Bipolar Scotland

Scotland’s national bipolar charity offering information, training and group support for people with bipolar

Bipolar UK

UK wide bipolar charity offering resources, group support and peer support lines

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Information for parents, carers and people working with young people with bipolar

Get Help now

If you are concerned about your mental health, or if you have found yourself feeling concerned about someone else, you can:

Call 111 – NHS 24

Call 116 123 – The Samaritans

Call 0800 83 85 87 – Breathing Space

Text: ‘YM’ to 85258 – Young Minds crisis chat

If you think you are in danger of hurting yourself or other people, you should call 999 or present to your local A&E department.