Connecting with hope is the theme of this year’s Schizophrenia Awareness Week, which opens on Sunday 22 May. World Schizophrenia Awareness Day is Tuesday 24 May.
The Australian government’s healthdirect site defines schizophrenia as a mental illness that causes someone to have an altered experience of reality.
“It causes psychosis, when people experience delusions and hallucinations. Schizophrenia affects people’s thoughts, perceptions and behaviour and interferes with their ability to function at work, school or relate to other people.
“People with schizophrenia often experience stigma in the community, which can be one of their biggest problems. Most people find schizophrenia hard to understand and there are many myths about the illness.
“Contrary to popular belief, people with schizophrenia do not have a ‘split personality’. Only a very small number of people with schizophrenia become violent but they do have a higher rate of suicide than the general population.”
Given this pattern of stigma and misunderstanding, it’s welcome that key messages for this year’s awareness week include:
- sensitively considering that some people may be feeling helpless and hopeless
- reducing fear and enhancing awareness of schizophrenia
- recovery is possible
- being inclusive of family and carers is important.
The Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia (MIFA) is planning to run a national awareness-raising and anti-stigma media campaign during Schizophrenia Awareness Week.
A factsheet produced by SANE Australia contains further information and contact details for those who want to access help.
Recommended hashtags for the week include: #SAW2022 #SchizophreniaAwareness #ConnectingWithHope #DiscoverBetterMentalHealth #MentalHealthMatters