Schizophrenia awareness week

This week (23 -29 May) is Schizophrenia Awareness Week. This year's theme is Discover Better Mental Health, and there will be a range of activities throughout the week for people to learn more about schizophrenia and connect with other people.

Schizophrenia is an illness that affects on the functioning of our brains, and impacts on a person's thoughts, feelings and actions. About on in a hundred people with develop schizophrenia during their lives, with most people first experiencing the illness in their late teens and early twenties.

Schizophrenia is a diagnosis given to approximately one person in every hundred. Most people experience for the first time in late teens or early twenties. People with this diagnosis can experience distressing thoughts and feeling and may also experience seeing and hearing things that those around them cannot see and hear. This can be highly distressing to the person experiencing them, as well as their loved ones. People may also experience low motivation and difficulty ordering their thoughts.While the cause of schizophrenia isn't still fully understood, opinion is growing that it, like most other mental health challenges is a response to trauma.

Antipsychotic medications are often prescribed to people with this diagnosis. For some people these medications help them to manage the symptoms and may reduce the distress. However, it should be realised that medications such as antipsychotics can have unwanted side effects such as weight gain and metabolic changes.

More and more people who experience the support they need, especially the support of others who have had this diagnosis, are leading contributing, meaningful, fulfilling lives.

However, because this mental health issue is misunderstood, many people with this diagnosis can face discrimination and stigma. This can lead them to being isolated and may create a barrier to accessing education, employment, human services and good mental and physical health care. Myths about schizophrenia are usually based in ignorance or discrimination and may include such ideas as people with schizophrenia are more likely to be violent or have a split personality. These ideas are completely false. In fact, a person with schizophrenia is more likely to be the victim of violence than the perpetrator. It’s also not a contagious condition, you can’t catch schizophrenia by being around someone who has it.

That's why Schizophrenia Awareness Week is so important, because it's an opportunity for people to learn more about it and hopefully bust some myths around it!