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CREST BD Inspires the Bipolar Babe at their Annual Network Meeting

I recently had the pleasure of attending CREST BD’s Annual Network Meeting. It was a thrill to be in Canmore, Alberta for three days, meeting the real live people that make up the CREST BD network. The Collaborative RESearch Team to study psychosocial issues in Bipolar Disorder (CREST BD) is a multidisciplinary network of researchers, health care providers, and people living with the condition. They are dedicated to research, and knowledge exchange about psychological and social factors in bipolar disorder. Their aim is to enhance the health and wellness of people living with bipolar disorder.

CREST BD is unlike any other organization that I have come across for they undertake original and unique research into the psychological and social elements of bipolar disorder. They empower people to get involved in their research in a new and unique way.

Dr. Erin Michalak is the leader of CREST BD and created the network with a knowledgeable team because she saw a lack of research in the psychological and social factors that affect bipolar disorder. Treatment does not end with medication, and there is so much more that can be done to stay well; the work that CREST BD does is to research and explore exactly how people can and do manage their disorder. CREST BD performs important work for they assess important aspects of bipolar disorder such as the quality of life of people who live with bipolar disorder.

As I looked around the conference room in Canmore I saw many smiling faces and bright minds from across the globe. Network members from Canada, China, United States, Australia, England, and so many more places. There were people from the network from the areas of social work, psychology, psychiatry, nursing, etc. The network also had many people with lived experience at the conference as they see the value of bringing first-hand knowledge to the table.

Some of the work that CREST BD has done is extremely noteworthy, but for the purpose of this blog I will highlight a few areas that I personally admire.

The Delphi Consensus Consultation Study -Findings from this study found that some people who live with bipolar disorder in British Clumbia identify and employ strategies to live well with the condition and experience good health and quality of life as a result. 

Quality of Life BD Scale – People with bipolar disorder can learn to undertake a self-assessment of QoL: after completing the scale, the results will outline implications that an individual with bipolar disorder can draw from to address treatment and self-management goals.

-Network member, Victoria Maxwell explores the method of theatre and Knowledge Exchange (KE) through the arts. Having personally met Victoria a number of times I initially did not have the opportunity to see her live performance called ‘That’s Just Crazy Talk!’ However during my time in Alberta I did! This YouTube video will give you a short preview into her amazingly powerful world and presentation.

My brightest highlight from the conference was having the opportunity to share the Bipolar Youth Action Project in a presentation format called the PechaKucha in exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I was nervous to say the least, but as soon as I looked around the room, I realized something important. These people are here to see me succeed and not have me fail. That is the CREST BD way – working together to be successful in our work together, and helping many others along the way.

Collaboration, connection, and cohesiveness are a few of the concepts that I left the conference with last week, and they are now what I bring forward in the work that I do with CREST BD.