The stigma of a mental illness

There is no question that people living with schizophrenia are still stigmatised.
Nanjing Night Net

We know that people diagnosed as having schizophrenia die up to 20 years earlier than others in the community and a few years ago schizophrenia was declared the ‘abandoned illness’ by the Schizophrenia Commission in the UK.

Now new research, the largest study to explore renaming the illness, has again highlighted the complexities of damaging stigma associated with diagnoses.

After surveying more than 1600 people, researchers in the UK conclude that ‘any decisions to rename should be made with caution.’ However, they add, ‘a decision not to rename may overlook an important opportunity to tackle damaging stereotypes’.

In Japan, after they changed the name, psychiatrists were almost twice as likely to tell their patients about their diagnosis.

Furthermore, 86per cent of psychiatrists said it was easier to talk to families and discuss treatments.

Award winning Australian poet and author, Sandy Jeffs has lived with schizophrenia for 38 years. She says, somewhat despairingly, that even though mental health is discussed more openly and other mental health conditions become more visible, schizophrenia has retreated further into the shadows.

SANE Australia recently called on the federal government to put in place a five-year national stigma reduction campaign.

During this year’s Schizophrenia Awareness Week (May 17-23), I again urge the government to support this initiative, so that we can build a fair, decent and prosperous Australia in which we all have a place and contribution to make.

— JACK HEATH,

CEO SANE Australia

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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