By On April 10th, 2015

Can a Board Game Help Other Understand Bipolar Disorder?

Mental health issues like bipolar disorder can often feel very isolating, as it often seems few understand what it feels like to live with the condition. However, one woman is developing a board game to help others understand bipolar disorder better.


Game players match answer cards to the questions posed on the board

Jocelyn Duncan created the game in hopes that it could work as an education and communication tool to help break down the stigma around mental illness.

The game shows surprising potential, as it has been evaluated by University of Glamorgan and local health officials who are confident enough in the game to plan a pilot study in the community.

Duncan has lived with bipolar disorder the majority of her life without a diagnosis. She says the disorder was triggered for her by a trauma when she was just 8 years old. However, she did not receive a diagnosis until she was 57. She still remembers the day as “one of the best days of my life” because she says she finally “had a face to my enemy.”

Shortly after her diagnosis, she had a severe adverse reaction to the mood stabilizing medication she was initially prescribed, which led her to begin investigating other ways of controlling her condition without medication.

Since then, she has established a bipolar self-help group, which eventually helped Duncan see the need for an effective communication tool which would help explain the complex illness to those without it.

It is often extremely difficult for those with the disorder to pass information about the illness on to family and friends, but intermediary tools such as this may help expand widespread understanding of mental illness within society and much of the stigma that comes with it.

The game involves a board consisting of a series of squares. Each square contains a single question, the answer to which is on a separate card which must be matched to the appropriate question. This system serves to stoke conversation so that players will discuss the questions and how they relate to bipolar disorder.

Duncan says “If I could be granted one wish it would be for everyone with a bipolar disorder to have the knowledge to understand their illness in the way that I do,” she said.

“With a clearer understanding there would be large numbers of people who could have help to control their lives.”

Ms Duncan also says the game is primarily intended to allow people to learn about the illness and talk about it as a family or group.

“It teaches you ways to cope and helps you understand more effectively and quicker than any other system or book,” she said.

“The feedback we are getting is that the boards have helped individual sufferers to manage their illness and improve their quality of life.”

One Response

  1. Dennis Laity says:

    This has nowhere been developed into a complete training in a box system which is now bein used by NHS Health Authorities and Mental Health Organisations who are their own workshop training courses using this material.

    It is a shame it was labeled a game when in fact it is an Info-Graphic teaching system for complex conditions.

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