Review: bp Magazine

I stumbled upon bp Magazine, at bphope.com, while trolling around for resources for Crazy Good Parent. Wow! I thought, An online magazine accessible for free?! Too good to be true.

I love it when I’m right. bp Magazine’s online presence is really more of a marketing tool for the paid versions, print and digital. This review is based on the online presence; I paid for a digital subscription ($14.95; print subscriptions are $19.95 per year) and I’ll review that when I’ve had a chance to read it.

Here’s how bp describes the magazine:

Four times annually, bp is filled with articles by and about personalities who share the issues of living with bipolar disorder. Each magazine contains hints on thriving, enjoying life and eating well. Plus, pages of news, research and how to get better care. Our columnists speak to young men and women living with bipolar and to parents of bipolar children. It reaches out to adults and to caregivers. 

photoThe home page is attractive and easy to read. On my laptop, the above-the-scroll section offers clear links to a number of sections, call-outs and links to three articles from the current issue, and a large photo tied to a feature article on Shelby Tweten, an American Idol contestant. Tweten talked about her bipolar disorder at her audition. The feature and articles are only excerpts. You need a subscription to read the entire article.

Below the scroll was a “tip of the week.” This week’s tip is to establish a regular sleep/wake schedule. Good advice, but hard to accomplish as a busy parent. Also featured was an article from a past issue on relapse. The entire article is available to read and the “click here” button makes that clear.

You can delve deeper into the site by clicking on any of the links at the top of the home page. “bipolar in depth” leads to comprehensive information about the disorder and symptoms as well as resources for further information and support. The “Community Support” button leads to links to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) sites in Florida and Indiana. If you’re looking for your own local chapter, you’ll have to Google it.

There is a blog, as well. The posts are short, presenting a topic (“Can people with bipolar have healthy relationships?” is one) and soliciting reader comments. The first post must have been new; there were no comments yet.

There are also forums for connecting with others with bipolar. I’m not a big fan of forums, but bp’s looks to be a good place to go with questions and problems or just to connect with others.

Throughout the site are solicitations for subscriptions, but you can easily ignore them. I didn’t. Clicking through one of the links, I was offered a sample issue to read. I found it difficult, even on my laptop, to see enough of the page at once to make reading anything short of annoying. I really wanted to read the article on hypersexuality, a symptom I find it hard to discuss. The little I was able to read was enough to make me feel a little less ashamed of certain chapters in my life. 

Awesome

  • Good content on bipolar, symptoms, resources.
  • Ability to connect with other people with bipolar.
  • Attractive layout and easy navigation.
  • Links to resources.
  • Interesting article topics.
  • Having a whole magazine dedicated to the issues people with bipolar face daily.

Not so much

  • The site is a marketing tool.
  • Linked articles and features are only excerpts, except for one from a back issue.
  • Subscriptions aren’t cheap if you’re on a budget.
  • You probably can’t find an issue at your local library (though you might at your health care provider’s office).

Bottom line

Bp Magazine itself looks like a fine resource, but the website is valuable mostly to the publisher. The information on bipolar disorder is crazy good, but the site really isn’t.

Note: The same company publishes “esperanza”, a magazine devoted to coping with anxiety and depression. The website, at hopetocope.com, has the same format and purpose as bp Magazine’s.

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