It is estimated that today, in 2014, schizophrenic illness affects 26 million people.
To some, this might seem a startling statistic.
To us, it underlines that Living with Schizophrenia is not an uncommon undertaking.
The capitals, incidentally, are to highlight that this, Living with Schizophrenia, is the theme for World Mental Health Day, which is due to take place on 10 October.
It’s our hope that, in emphasising that schizophrenic illness isn’t as unusual as some might imagine, the stigma that continues to surround it (and its associated conditions) can begin to be broken down.
To quote from the World Federation for Mental Health’s Living with Schizophrenia report, ‘The response to people with schizophrenic illness has not always been kind . . . stigma and discrimination [shape] attitudes towards mental illness and [those] experiencing it’.
Stigma continues to be a curse right across the mental health spectrum. One retailer’s ill-advised ‘joke’ about bipolar disorder (and the subsequent storm it prompted) has underlined as much in recent days.
The most unfortunate thing is that, when it comes to stigma, those least equipped to cope suffer the most. Discrimination does damage, make no mistake about it.
To quote one (anonymous) blogger, ‘The two most hurtful words in the dictionary? ‘Schizophrenia’ and ‘Psychotic’. Those two words ruin lives’.
That suicide and self-harm are not unusual responses from those facing up to a schizophrenic diagnosis underlines that point. Schizophrenia is bad. Stigma makes it even harder to cope.
Like all illnesses, there are no hard and fast rules here. Schizophrenia is an umbrella term that can cover multiple conditions. It often starts during the late-teens and early-twenties. Young people tend to be at their most vulnerable at such times. This puts it on our radar.
The thing to realise here is that schizophrenic illness is treatable. People do live with it. The most common perceptions about schizophrenia – like most mental illnesses – are far from accurate.
It’s our job, as a society, to help raise awareness of schizophrenic illness. To understand it better. To support those affected. To do our utmost to stamp out stigma. To stop making things worse.
This is something that, here at CPUK, we’re all determined to do. Not just on World Mental Health Day, on October 10th. But all the time. Year-round. It’s our hope that YOU might do the same.
To quote the World Federation for Mental Health one last time, ‘We want to ensure that people with schizophrenia get the best possible care and support to manage their illness and help them recover’.
Here at CPUK, that’s our aim too.
* Got concerns or need support? You can always contact CPUK here.