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Schizophrenia Awareness Day 2023 – Removing the stigma around mental health

Mental health stigma is a significant concern in the UK, and it can have a detrimental impact on individuals and society as a whole. Studies have found that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, yet many people still feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their mental health. This can prevent them from seeking help and support, which can lead to their condition becoming worse.

Stigma can manifest itself in a variety of ways, such as discrimination in the workplace, social exclusion, and negative attitudes from friends and family. Research has shown that these negative attitudes can be a significant barrier to individuals seeking help for their mental health issues. A study conducted in 2020 by the "Mental Health Foundation" found that nearly two-thirds of people with a mental health problem experience stigma and discrimination.

As a psychological service, we recognise the importance of addressing mental health stigma and discrimination. We strive to provide a non-judgmental and confidential service for all individuals, regardless of their mental health condition. We also provide education and training on mental health to help raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues.

National Schizophrenia Awareness Day is marked on the 25th of July every year and aims to shine a light on the challenges faced by millions of people living with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia. Although 1 in 100 people will experience schizophrenia, the stigma surrounding a diagnosis remains stubborn and this appears to be predominantly due to a lack of understanding around the condition.

To mark this year’s National Schizophrenia Awareness Day, we have put together a Blog post to support ‘rethink mental illness’ campaign to reduce the stigma through increasing understanding.

Schizophrenia is a complex mental health condition that is primarily related to psychosis. Schizophrenia can affect how a person thinks, feels, and experiences the world around them. The word Schizophrenia comes from two words, ‘schizo’ meaning ‘to split’ and ‘phrene’ meaning ‘the mind’.

Whilst every person’s experience is unique some common experiences for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia include:

  • A lack of interest in things

  • Feeling disconnected from the world and your emotions

  • Difficulties with concentration

  • Wanting to avoid people

  • Hallucinations (auditory or visual)

  • Delusions

  • Disorganisation in speaking patterns or thoughts

One reason why Schizophrenia may commonly be misunderstood is due to the complexities in diagnosing the condition. There is no test for Schizophrenia and views around diagnosis are consistently changing. Whilst there are many psychologists who argue that Schizophrenia is a diagnosable condition in its own right, there is a growing argument that Schizophrenia may actually represent an overlap of several conditions rather than being a single condition.

Research has shown that adults are more likely to be diagnosed as Schizophrenic than children or adolescents with equally numbers of males and females being diagnosed. In young people, it can be difficult to determine a diagnosis of schizophrenia due to overlap between symptomology and other conditions. For example, here at bMindful we work to support many residential provisions for looked after children. The children we support in these settings can sometimes present with symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions but as a result of significant trauma rather than a diagnoses of Schizophrenia.

Ultimately the most important point to note in this discussion is if you, or someone you know is experiencing difficulties with their mental health seek further help and support from trained professionals. Often a first step may be seeking out further guidance from your GP.

As a psychological service, we are proud to have a team of highly qualified and experienced psychotherapists and psychologists who may be able to offer support, help or guidance. If you would like more information about how we may be able to support you or your organisation please visit our website or call our office on 0161 510 0111.

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