World Bipolar Day

World Bipolar Day 2024World Bipolar Day is celebrated each year on March 30, the birthday of Vincent van Gogh, who was diagnosed years after his death in 1890 as likely having had bipolar disorder (BD).

BD, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings including emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

World Bipolar Day intends to raise awareness of bipolar disorders and eliminate social stigma. Through international collaboration, the goal of World Bipolar Day is to provide accurate information about bipolar disorders that will educate and improve sensitivity toward the illness.

World Bipolar Day is an opportunity to show those living with the day-to-day challenges of this condition they are not alone, they have your support, and that there is always hope.

It’s a day when the BD community can come together to celebrate with friends, family, research communities, and organizations. World Bipolar Day is an opportunity to remember our strength, our resilience, and our successes, as well as acknowledge that much work remains ahead.

Bipolar disorder may cause dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to think clearly. People with bipolar experience high and low moods—known as mania and depression—which differ from the typical ups and downs most people experience.

The average age of onset is around the age of 25, but it can occur in the teens, or more uncommonly, in childhood. The condition affects men and women equally, with about three percent of the US population diagnosed with bipolar disorder and nearly 83 percent of cases classified as severe.

If left untreated, bipolar disorder usually worsens. However, with a good treatment plan including psychotherapy, medications, a healthy lifestyle, a regular schedule, and early identification of symptoms, many people live well with the condition.

Symptoms and their severity can vary. A person with bipolar disorder may have distinct manic or depressed states but may also have extended periods—sometimes years—without symptoms. A person can also experience both extremes simultaneously or in rapid sequence.

Several Types of Bipolar Disorders and Related Conditions

Bipolar I disorder: the person had at least one manic episode that may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. In some cases, mania may trigger a break from reality (psychosis).

Bipolar II disorder: the person had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but you’ve never had a manic episode.

Cyclothymic Disorder or cyclothymia: a person who had at least two years—or one year in children and teenagers—of many periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms (though less severe than major depression).

Bipolar disorder, “other specified” and “unspecified”: when a person does not meet the criteria for bipolar I, II or cyclothymia but has still experienced periods of clinically significant abnormal mood elevation.

Bipolar disorder is best treated with a combination of medications and psychotherapy. Medications can provide effective treatment during the acute episode and prevent future episodes from occurring. Psychotherapy can help in ways that medications can’t and can be an important adjunct to medication.

The late Colorado Recovery founder Richard Warner dedicated most of his life to fighting the stigmatization of people with mental illness. Colorado Recovery has been utilizing the Warner method to empower adults with mental illness for many years now.

Our program approaches mental healthcare based on a path of self-reliance through developed practiced skills. Recognizing the importance of empowerment for recovery, our non-institutionalized philosophy engages patients in increasing community participation.

Our treatment facility provides services needed to address schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other serious mental illnesses. Call us at 720-218-4068 to discuss treatment options for you or the person you would like to help.

Good Things Happen When Clients Take the Initiative

Colorado Recovery approaches mental healthcare based on a path to self-reliance through developing practical skills. Our approach to care is about nurturing an environment of inclusivity, socialization, and community building. Clients are encouraged to take part in activities out in the community to achieve a certain degree of social independence.

Recreational activities include snowshoeing through Colorado’s spectacular winter landscape, movie nights, talent shows, trips to the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, and even go-kart excursions.

Peter Kamback is Colorado Recovery’s vocational rehabilitation specialist and Community organizer. We base a lot of our community activities off of the “Club House” model. He organizes, participates, and supervises many of these therapeutic activities. He is particularly proud of clients who take the initiative themselves.

Colorado Recovery client James (not his real name) recently suggested making candles with the group. “He did a great job coming up with this idea on his own,” praised Kamback. “It shows initiative to interact with others in a structured and productive way. He did prepare all the materials himself before he came over to lead the group.”

Introducing new interests and subjects is a great way for clients to make connections with one another and boost self-confidence. “It was great to see and hear his excitement when he described the process of candle-making to his fellow clients,” Kamback says. “This is something he enjoyed doing on his own and it was wonderful that he wanted to share it with others. As a result of his enthusiasm for this subject, others were stimulated to consider and share things they were interested in as well.”

This was a different experience from being part of a group led by someone else, requiring more focus and attention. “He did need some guidance when it came to coordinating all of our efforts. But this was also a learning experience for him,” says Kamback. “In his mind, James had it all figured out for himself, but he hadn’t quite worked out all the details of dividing tasks and keeping everyone engaged. So, it was a great opportunity for him to work on his leadership qualities. He paid attention to the other clients if they had questions along the way. He knew when he was needed and when he could let others proceed on their own. He also took the lead when it was unclear what to do next in the process.”

James is a pleasant, conversational person which helped a lot with this activity. However, he did not fully anticipate the limitations of the materials and tools he had at the time. “This is something that often happens when introducing a new idea or exercise to clients,” explains Kamback. “At one point there was nothing left for anyone to do but wait for the wax to cool. I’m not sure James considered this part of the process or knew how to end the activity but everyone went along with it fine.”

The candle-making experience yielded some good things for James to think about should he decide to lead another group activity in the future. He certainly acquired some new tools to better equip himself and others for ventures to come. “Overall, he did a great job,” says Kamback.

Creative socializing activities like candle-making as part of a group are all part of the groundbreaking approach to mental health treatment pioneered by the late Colorado Recovery founder Richard Warner. Recovery from serious mental illness requires that patients retain a sense of empowerment—a belief in their ability to take charge of their lives and manage the complex challenges of their illness.

At Colorado Recovery it is our mission to help adults with serious mental health issues stabilize their illness, minimize symptoms, improve functioning, and enhance each person’s social inclusion, quality of life, and sense of meaning in life.

If you have questions about our recovery model or our services to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and similar mental illnesses, call us at 720-218-4068 to discuss treatment options for you or the person you would like to help.

Independent Living: The Path to Self-Reliance

One of the main objectives of the Colorado Recovery program is for patients to achieve a certain degree of social independence.

Our recovery model is a holistic, patient-centered approach to mental healthcare. This model is based on the simple premise that it is possible to recover from a mental health condition. Not that long ago, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and similar severe mental health conditions were considered chronic and beyond the reach of any meaningful recovery.


The recovery model counteracts feelings of disempowerment and worthlessness in the patient. Its key tenets—“optimism about recovery from schizophrenia, the importance of access to employment, and the value of empowerment of user/consumers in the recovery process—are supported by scientific research,” wrote the late Colorado Recovery founder Richard Warner in 2009. “Attempts to reduce the internalized stigma of mental illness should enhance the recovery process.”

Indeed, stereotypes, discrimination, and internalized stigma can be big problems for people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and similar conditions. Stigma tends to discourage our clients, preventing them from going out in the world and trying new things. Even food shopping or going out on a walk can appear daunting.

“On their own, many would not even go for a walk,” says Peter Kamback MFA, a vocational rehabilitation specialist and community organizer for Colorado Recovery. “With me there, I encourage them to go out and take these small steps on social interactions with people in the community. Even just a greeting look at a passerby becomes less intimidating with me around. If they see me saying ‘Hello’ to a stranger, they become more comfortable with it.”

Social support outside a therapy group setting can definitely improve recovery outcomes. “Going to the store, walking around in a public space, just having someone there to support them can go a long way,” says Kamback. “If they see that the person next to them can do it, they start thinking, ‘I can do it, too.’ Colorado Recovery specializes in that kind of support.”

Getting clients to vocalize their goals can be difficult, so just being there for them and offering support is crucial. “Getting to a point where they feel they can have a normal conversation and just be themselves is really important,” says Kamback. “Then, they can try to delve more deeply into what we can help them with, what their interests and goals are.”

The healing power of connection can not be overstated. “You establish a rapport with a client and all of a sudden they are willing to come out of their apartment,” says clinical therapist Julie Owen, MA, LPC. “This kind of accepting, non-judgmental relationship often makes them try something they haven’t been willing to try before. Because of the relationships we have here with our clients, we can take them to a museum or bowling—even go-karts.”


“Social recovery includes the components of interdependence with others, connectedness, recovery capital, and social capital, as well as the impact of collective culture and the structural elements of our socio-economic-political system,” wrote Professor of Social Inclusion and Wellbeing Shulamit Ramon in 2018. “To add to the complexity, the impact of each element on one’s identity, in interaction with how one is seen by others, needs to be taken into account.”

Professor Ramon points out that social recovery was initially described by Dr. Warner in his book Recovery from Schizophrenia as economic and residential independence with low social disruption but has since been expanded to refer to people’s ability to lead meaningful and contributing lives as active citizens.

According to Warner, acceptance of mental illness (insight) with an internal locus of control can lead to empowerment and good outcomes while acceptance of mental illness with an external locus of control (internalized stigma, controlled by others) leads to poor outcomes.

Beginning with a careful assessment, the team at Colorado Recovery evaluates what level of support is needed to create an environment of success for our clients. “Our patients are some of the most courageous human beings I have ever seen,” says Owen.

At Colorado Recovery, it is our mission to help adults with serious mental health issues stabilize their illness, minimize symptoms, improve functioning, and enhance each person’s social inclusion, quality of life, and sense of meaning in life. Clients continue to be connected clinically while in the independent living program which allows them to benefit from our dynamic levels of care and receive the best possible support.

If you have questions about our services to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and similar mental illnesses, call us at 720-218-4068 to discuss treatment options for you or the person you would like to help.