• Tom Robinson

Breaking the stigma surrounding schizophrenia and other mental disorders

Updated: Mar 4

An article in The Independent published earlier this year highlights the unhelpful prejudices that still exist in relation to schizophrenia and other more complicated mental health disorders. These conditions are perhaps more difficult to comprehend, but it is essential that as a society we come together to collectively educate ourselves about mental illnesses for the sake of those that suffer from them.


In the article, Katie Fisher, CEO of St Andrews Healthcare, Northampton, writes that although mental health conditions like schizophrenia can be 'debilitating' and 'life changing' the provision of a message of hope to sufferers is the difference between surviving and living.


I can really relate to the point she is making because when you are in the throes of mental illness you are vulnerable and it's all about survival, it's too hard to think about anything else, yet there are times when the illness subsides and the individual is able to be productive and achieve things again.


While growing up alongside Bipolar Disorder I have been exposed to statements like; "this is a very complicated disorder" and that it "reduces the ability to function effectively". This damning information undermined my confidence and meant that I existed under this cloud of negativity - even in my periods of complete mental wellness. It wasn't until I made a conscious effort to regain my confidence by working really hard on myself that I was able to break free from the illness and truly start living again.


The confusion and misunderstanding surrounding mental health disorders is still making those that suffer from them feel scared and ashamed. There is still stigma attached to having a mental health condition and that is why we need people to speak out and prove that it is possible to be a confident, capable person who is productive and achieves great things regardless of their mental health diagnosis.


The prejudices that surround illnesses like schizophrenia come from the complete lack of education into the condition. It is a disorder in which the person may not always be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality, yet three in five people think schizophrenia means having a 'split personality'. Further to this, one person in ten think that people with schizophrenia have psychopathic traits. Is it any wonder that these people feel fear and judgement when in society? It certainly doesn't make them want to be open and honest about what they are suffering and that makes them even more vulnerable.


Through my stints in psychiatric hospitals I have met a huge range of people with all sorts of diagnoses such as schizophrenia, personality disorder, anorexia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, ADHD, depression and anxiety - you name the condition and I know someone suffering from it. And do you know what? - They're all really lovely people with so much to offer. We should be encouraging and accepting them so that they can not only survive but begin to really live and thrive.


If you are interested in reading more about stigma and mental health you can find the full article from The Independent here. I have also added a short educational video which you can find here and also on the home page.


Thank you to Katie Fisher for highlighting these important issues!


As usual please share and keep the suggestions for posts coming! Thank you for all the support it means so much.


Thanks for reading,

TR

www.dyingtostayalive.com