A national Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Conference yesterday, 5 Oct 2011, called for improved BPD training for mental health workers, and a major community awareness program to help address the stigma associated with BPD.
The calls were part of a BPD 9-Point Action Plan drawn up by conference delegates at Victoria’s Darebin Arts Centre on National BPD Awareness Day.
BPD is a serious mental illness which affects between 2-5 percent of the population and mainly develops in the mid to late teens or early adulthood. The symptoms include frequent distressing emotional states, impulsive and self-harming behaviour and difficulty in relationships. The major causes include a wide variety of traumas in childhood and the pain of abandonment caused.
It affects men as well as women and has a similar incidence to schizophrenia.
Network spokesperson, Ms De Backman-Hoyle, said that the conference was the first of its kind in Australia and had been over-subscribed by people with BPD, carers, mental health workers and researchers.
“People with BPD have been the Cinderellas of the mental health system and this has to change at all levels of the system and the community.”
Ms Backman-Hoyle said that people with BPD are also often not told they have the condition due to the stigma of the diagnosis, and then denied the treatment they need.
“They can spend years in a mental health limbo. But very effective treatments do exist and people with BPD can go on to lead very productive fulfilling lives,” Ms Backman-Hoyle said.
The conference 9-Point Action Plan also included:
- A regular national conference
- A national lobby group with consumers at the centre
- A possible change of name from BPD (possibilities included Emotional Dysregulation Disorder and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Access to formal national services like the Victorian-based Spectrum
- A humanistic approach to treatment as opposed to the current mental health system which is dehumanising and re-traumatising
- The retention of the 18 mental health sessions available under the Federal Government’s Better Access Program (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, for example, which is an evidence-based treatment for BPD, is recommended for 18 months to two years but preferably several years)
- The focus of treatment on managing the emotions and feelings that people with BPD have difficulty regulating and not on the behaviours which result.