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Film Screening and Discussion at U.Va. March 26 To Focus on Bipolar Disorder

The University of Virginia’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services – better-known on Grounds as “CAPS” – will host a screening of “Of Two Minds,” an award-winning documentary about bipolar disorder, on March 26 from 7 to 9:15 p.m. in Newcomb Hall Theater. The screening is free and open to the public.

The 90-minute film profiles several individuals with bipolar disorder. One of the film’s producers, Lisa Klein, as well as one of the main characters, “Liz,” will be present for the the screening and the question-and-answer session that follows. Russ Federman, CAPS psychologist, and Dr. Andy Thomson, CAPS psychiatrist, also will participate in the Q&A session. The two co-wrote “Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult’s Guide to Dealing with Bipolar Disorder” (2010, New Harbinger Publications).

Active Minds at U.Va., a chapter of a national student organization addressing  mental health issues, has been instrumental in helping to plan the screening. The group works toward creating a comfortable environment for open conversation about mental health issues at U.Va. and toward removing their stigma. 

Federman describes bipolar disorder as a mood disorder that involves strong shifts in mood, energy, thought and behavior. Onset, he said, typically occurs somewhere between mid-adolescence and the mid-20s.

“Individuals with bipolar disorder experience discrete phases of depression and elevated mood,” Federman said. “In its more extreme aspects someone experiencing bipolar ‘mania’ (intense mood elevation) may be sufficiently out of control to require psychiatric hospitalization.” 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 2.6 percent of Americans suffer from bipolar disorder.

“There are no confirmed aggregate numbers representing national university student bipolar prevalence, but percentages are much lower, as academic admission requirements tend to exclude those with more acute forms of the disorder,” Federman said. “This is even more the case at the top-tier academic universities. It is estimated that the bipolar prevalence within the U.Va. student body is somewhere between 0.6 and 0.8 percent.”   

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