The 25th of July marked Schizophrenia Awareness Day. This is a day created by the charity Rethink Mental Illness to help spread awareness and education about schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a commonly misunderstood mental health condition and so Schizophrenia Awareness Day is one way to educate people on what it really is and challenge the associated stigma.
What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a complex mental health condition which affects 1 in every 100 people.
Experiences of schizophrenia are not the same for everyone diagnosed. People can experience a range of different symptoms, and the illness can develop very differently too. For some, symptoms appear suddenly, while for others they develop more gradually over time.
Nonetheless, there are some common symptoms which can be used to aid diagnosis.
- Feeling disconnected from emotions
- Auditory hallucinations – hearing things that are not there, g. hearing voices
- Visual hallucinations – seeing things that are not there
- Delusions – strong beliefs which are contrary to reality and others’ beliefs
- Disorganised thinking
- Disruption to everyday life
Challenging stereotypes about schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is commonly misunderstood and many people have incorrect ideas of what it is.
Schizophrenia does not mean individuals have a ‘split personality’. This is a stereotype which may come from the literal meaning of the name, as ‘schizo’ means split and ‘phrene’ means mind. However, this does not reflect the symptoms of schizophrenia. Symptoms relating to a ‘split personality’ are more reflective of dissociative identity disorder.
Individuals with schizophrenia are also not more likely to be violent, despite what stereotyping suggests. Research actually shows that individuals with schizophrenia tend to be more likely to be victims of violence, or to be more of a risk of harm to themselves than to others.
Another stereotype of individuals with schizophrenia is that they cannot maintain a normal life. Although disruption to everyday life can be an important symptom in diagnosing the disorder, individuals with schizophrenia can receive treatment and become able to live a more ‘normal’ life and maintain jobs and relationships.
Finding out more and seeking help
Schizophrenia is a complex disorder and diagnosing it can be difficult. However, there are many resources out there, both to learn more about schizophrenia and to gain support and treatment for schizophrenia and other mental health conditions.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to seek help. The first step is generally talking to your GP. They can give advice and support, and also refer you to individuals who can better help you.
Many charities also provide resources to learn about schizophrenia and ways to get help. These can include peer support groups, workshops, and ways of getting in touch online, by phone and by text.
Some charities to explore are:
- Rethink Mental Illness: We are Rethink Mental Illness
- Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/
- Hearing voices network: https://www.hearing-voices.org/
- Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/ 24/7 helpline: 116 123
- Shout: https://giveusashout.org/ 24/7 text helpline: 85258
If you are concerned about your own mental health or that of a tpm learner, please talk to us. We are here to help you and guide you in the direction of qualified support. You can speak directly to your tutor or one of our trained mental health champions.