Bipolar Disorder: Wellness Center Opens

Individuals, suffering from bipolar disorder, often end up in the ER. They're usually brought in by family members or police, because they've been engaging in risky behaviors. They may have been driving too fast, drinking too much, not eating or sleeping.

But these patients don't stay manic for long; they always crash.

Edwina Kempf, mother of nine and widow of Evansville developer Greg Kempf, dealt with some of these issues with one of her sons. She didn't think enough people were aware of how the disease can shatter lives or how it so often goes undiagnosed.

Therefore, she donated money to St. Mary's to establish the Edwina Kempf Bipolar Wellness Center. Patients and their families meet twice a month to discuss methods for preventing relapse.

Judy Moore, the mental health services director, explains, "It really enables people to listen to other people with the disorder, who have maybe been through relapses many times, and encourages them to keep on their medicine, to keep seeing the doctor, to listen people to people when they say you're getting out of control. It helps them a whole lot."

The support group meets the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 7 p.m. The Edwina Kempf Bipolar Wellness Center is located on the third floor of the St. Mary's Rehabilitation Institute. The group started out with about 10 people but now has 50.

Patients aren't treated there, but there's a unit for those acute cases at St. Mary's. Patients don't stay there long; that's why they need this wellness center to help them with maintenance of the illness.

For more information about the center, call (812) 485-5020 or visit the National Institute of Mental Health's Web site.