Matthew Taylor, Senior Lecturer and Consultant Psychiatrist
We’re going to talk first about the new MINI diagnostic tool. How do you see this new MINI diagnostic tool module being useful in your daily practice? How would you incorporate it?
I think it’s critical, to guide care, to have good high-quality assessments. We know from experience that if we take an unstructured approach I think we miss symptoms and we can misdiagnose and mismanage patients unnecessarily. I think more structured assessment, particularly early on, is critical in getting the right treatment sooner.
I’m always keen when I’m working with my junior staff to have them use structured interviews and structured measures - it helps us know what we’re dealing with. The MINI looks very applicable, convenient to use, it seems to work on its face and also the data seems to be there as well so I’m looking forward to trying it out and discussing it with the team and seeing if they’ll give it a go.
Do you think a patient’s family or their loved ones should be involved in the management of their disorder? If so, what’s the best way to include family or loved ones?
I think it’s very important that friends and family are involved, with consent obviously. They can provide a lot of support and they make our life easier often in terms of understanding someone holistically when they’re unwell. But also I think, in the longer term, family can play a big role in terms of making sure that care plans are appropriate and they can watch out sometimes for early warning signs. They can be a trigger to say “Hey have you thought about whether you’re entering a relapse and should be seeking help, should be seeing your care coordinator?”. So we work very hard to involve them, we try and make sure we invite them to our care programme, our care planning meetings and also, where we can, keep them involved in the longer term.
Sometimes we also give them their own assessment to find out what their needs are. It can be quite stressful to be a family member of someone with bipolar and so, often, they have their own needs and we have to assess those and make sure they get the support they need so that they can continue supporting people.
We’re quite lucky that we have the young patients on our unit - often they are still in touch with their family and, so far as we can, we then get the family involved very early on.