bipolar youth action project

Bipolar Youth Action Project (BYAP)

The Bipolar Youth Action Project is a youth-led action research project in response to a knowledge gap about effective self-management strategies for youth with bipolar disorder. BYAP is funded by the Vancouver Foundation, and carried out in partnership between CREST.BD and the Stigma-Free Society, formerly Bipolar Disorder Society of BC.

bipolar youth action projectThe project is designed to be empowering to youth. It works to build knowledge on how youth living with bipolar disorder live well with the condition, and to identify innovative ways for sharing this knowledge with peers, families and healthcare providers. Knowledge gained from this project is informing the development of appropriate resources to support youth self-management and enhanced capacity for self-care in this community.

Importantly, BYAP also builds capacity for youth to engage in mental health research. The project is proudly co-led by abipolar youth action project team of 7 youth peer researchers (the Youth Action Group, or YAG) who all live with bipolar disorder. The YAG is based in Victoria, BC, and guides data collection, analysis, and dissemination, while gaining skills in research methods, writing and event planning. YAG training has been guided by Mind Your Mind, a fabulous organization specializing in youth engagement.

Engaging Youth with Bipolar Disorder

The core questions that BYAP addresses are:

  1. What self-management strategies are effective for young people with bipolar disorder?
  2. When we know what self-management strategies work for youth with bipolar disorder, what is the best method for sharing this information with other youth, their families and the community?

PHASE 1 consisted of establishing the YAG and training the youth in research methods within a CBPR framework. The YAG are 7 young adults (19 to 25), living with BD, and residing in Victoria. Ongoing research training and support for the YAG members occur through all study phases.

PHASE 2 entailed the YAG designing and conducting, with support, the first of two Research Forums. The purpose of Forum 1 was to create a venue for mutual learning and knowledge exchange and consult, within a CBPR framework, with 20 youth with BD on their personal strategies for wellness. Methods for the forum were determined by the YAG members and included blended consultation, qualitative, quantitative and arts-based methods.

PHASE 3 entailed the YAG collating and interpreting the findings from Forum 1. Reports, as well as other outputs such as blogs, were produced to share the findings. Forum 2 was designed and implemented, similar in nature to Forum 1 but with the purpose of identifying the best methods for sharing the knowledge gathered in the Year 1 Forum.

PHASE 4 entailed the YAG developing a plan to share the knowledge gained. Participants focused their energies on developing youth appropriate outputs that could be shared peer-to-peer. We imagine, however, that parents, family and supports of youth will be interested in the study findings.

The Bipolar Youth Action Project is now complete and please watch our BYAP Key Messages Video.

After months of analysing our findings, two research events with youth, and working together on the project outcomes, our first Bipolar Youth Action Project (BYAP) paper has been published in the UBC Medical Journal (UBCMJ). This issue of UBCMJ is especially relevant and interesting to us as the entire issue focuses on mental health research. Our BYAP paper is co-written by our BYAP project team, including the two project leads, Erin and Andrea; researcher Eugenia, who mentored our team on youth engagement, one of our Youth Action Group members, Jeanne-Michelle; our student intern Kirsten; and our research coordinator, Nusha. In summary, this paper contains a discussion of the insights shared with us by the youth research participants with BD on who they seek health information online, and what, in their opinions, is necessary for this information to work better for them. The full paper is available for free download from UBCMJ HERE

Thank you to everyone who has made the Bipolar Youth Action Project a great success. 🙂