Safe 'til Stable Program Helps Bipolar Patients
A cooperative venture between the National Bipolar Foundation and the MedicAlert Foundation has produced “Safe 'til Stable,” an innovative emergency response service that provides a safety net for people who have bipolar disorder. Safe ‘til Stable is a major breakthrough in the field of mental health.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a serious medical condition in which a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function shift widely. The illness causes dramatic mood swings from excessively “high” and/or irritable (mania) to very low, sad, and hopeless (depression), and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Individuals also experience severe changes in energy and behavior along with the mood changes.
When individuals with bipolar disorder experience an event during which they are unable to speak for themselves, such as an automobile accident or a medical emergency, those who are wearing a “MEDIC ALERT” bracelet or necklace as part of the Safe ‘til Stable program will be identifiable to the first responders on the scene (e.g., emergency services personnel, law enforcement). These individuals can then call a 24-hour emergency response number and get details about the person’s condition, including current medication use. MedicAlert and Safe ‘til Stable also notifies the individual’s designated contacts and lets them know that an emergency has occurred.
The development of the Safe ‘til Stable program can help prevent the misdiagnosis, mistreatment, and misunderstanding that can occur in situations where people with bipolar disorder are unable to explain or alert others about their condition. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million adults, which is about 2.6 percent of the population age 18 and older. Up to one-third of the 3.4 million children and adolescents who have depression may be in the early stages of bipolar disorder.
The Safe ‘til Stable program can provide a sense of safety and security not only for people who have bipolar disorder but for their families as well. In addition, individuals who might otherwise be perceived as acting inappropriately or resisting arrest can be diverted from jail and transported to an appropriate facility for care. Thus implementation of the Safe ‘til Stable program can result in cost savings to communities.
National Bipolar Foundation
National Institute of Mental Health