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Better Understanding Bipolar Disorder

March 21, 2016

About 6 million Americans, or 2.6 percent of adults, have bipolar disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and yet much about it—its causes, cures, and connections with creativity—remains unknown.

In an effort to make sense of the mystery, various platforms are raising awareness about this important issue. The third annual World Bipolar Day is coming up on March 30th, and the entertainment world is exploring the condition through scripted stories and documentaries. ProSocial has recently been working on two films related to bipolar disorder.

In Touched with Fire, writer-director Paul Dalio introduces audiences to two poets with bipolar disorder, played by Katie Homes and Luke Kirby, whose art is fueled by their emotional extremes. The film explores how being bipolar affects individuals and their families—subjects Dalio knows firsthand, as he himself is bipolar.

Leading up to the film’s theatrical release in February, ProSocial built partnerships with key organizations, created a discussion guide in collaboration with NAMI to promote conversations about the movie and provide resources to people affected by the condition, and coordinated screenings and panel discussions across the country.

Speakers included Kay Jamison, author of Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament; actress Christine Lahti, who plays the parent of a bipolar character in the film; Paul Gionfriddo, the CEO of Mental Health America; and Anand Kumar, head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Ride the Tiger, a one-hour documentary about bipolar disorder created by Detroit Public Television (DPTV), explores questions related to genetics, the brain, treatment, and basic science, while aiming to reduce stereotypes and stigmas by sharing personal stories of highly accomplished people who have been diagnosed with mood disorders.

ProSocial is doing outreach to help drive viewers to the national TV broadcast. We encourage you to tune in to Ride the Tiger on PBS on April 13, 2016!