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Bipolar disorder

Who can help with bipolar disorder?

A range of mental health-care professionals might be involved in your care, including:

  • GP (family doctor)
  • psychiatrist
  • psychologist
  • case manager (sometimes called a key worker)
  • mobile assertive outreach team.

You and your family will need to understand who provides which type of care in the region where you live.

If you are Māori, Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander you may want to ask your health-care team to work with a cultural advisor or Indigenous health worker (e.g. Māori health worker or Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health worker).

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, an experienced mental health Auslan/NZSL interpreter can be provided.

More about mental health professionals

Psychiatrists: their role in treating bipolar disorder

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are experts in mental health. They are specialists in diagnosing and treating people with bipolar disorder.

Psychiatrists have a medical degree plus extra mental health training. They have done at least 11 years of university study and medical training.

Psychiatrists often lead teams of other mental health workers.  The team will work with you to decide how you will be treated.

A psychiatrist can help with:

  • making the right diagnosis (important for getting the right treatment)
  • working out which type of psychological treatment is best for you
  • choosing and fine-tuning your medication
  • treating problems with alcohol and other drugs
  • treating other problems (e.g. anxiety).

More about psychiatrists

Questions to ask about your health-care team and your treatment

  • Who is the main doctor who will manage my bipolar disorder?
  • Who else is involved and what are their roles?
  • How will my GP be involved?
  • If my GP needs information about my treatment or my illness, who should they contact?
  • Who will prescribe medication and check it is working?
  • What is our plan for what to do if my symptoms come back or get worse? (sometimes called a relapse recovery plan)
  • Do all members of my health-care team have a copy of my treatment plan?
  • Do all members of my health-care team have a copy of my relapse prevention plan?
  • Will my information be kept confidential from other people? Can I choose who my information can be shared with (e.g. a trusted family member)?
Page last reviewed Feb 2017 | C1034V1

This is a general guide only, and does not replace individual medical advice. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. The RANZCP is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information. Subject matter experts, people with lived experience of mental illness and carers all contributed to this fact sheet.