World Schizophrenia Day 2019: Eradicating Stigma Against Schizophrenia

World Schizophrenia Day 2019: Eradicating Stigma Against Schizophrenia

People suffering from schizophrenia end up having the condition affect the people around them as well / StunningArt via Shutterstock

 

Mental illnesses have long been stigmatized in many countries. In some cases, people think that those who are suffering from a mental disorder are harmful, violent, or will never be cured. One of these illnesses is schizophrenia, a chronic and severe mental disorder affecting more than 21 million people across the globe. People suffering from schizophrenia are affected not only mentally, as the condition affects one's overall health.

According to a report from Mental Help Net, about 1% of the world's population has schizophrenia. In the United States alone, approximately 1.2% of Americans or 3.2 million have this condition. Every year, there are about 1.5 million people being diagnosed with schizophrenia. This means that, in the U.S. alone, about 100,000 individuals will be diagnosed or about 21,000 people within a city of three million. These figures only show that schizophrenia is visible in our society and should be addressed. 

People suffering from this mental disorder end up having the condition affect the people around them as well. The leading theory that researchers presented to explain why individuals acquire these conditions is that it is a result of a genetic predisposition combined with other environmental exposures and stresses. However, it is still misunderstood for the most part. Thus, the need to educate people or inform them about the disorder is extremely important. 

Fortunately, there are a lot of efforts in raising awareness and educating people about schizophrenia. One of the global efforts is World Schizophrenia Day, which aims to correct the misconceptions about the disorder and address the current problems involving it. 

World Schizophrenia Day

Schizophrenia, just like other mental illnesses, is difficult to handle, especially if you are not knowledgeable about it. A person suffering from these conditions can experience distortions in thinking, emotions, perception, language, behavior, and sense of self. According to an article by the World Health Organization, some of the things that one can experience include seeing things that are not there, hearing voices, having delusions, and many more. 

World Schizophrenia Day is an annual event that aims to spread awareness about the disorder and reduce the stigma towards people affected by it. There are a lot of misconceptions around the illness that should be dispelled and which contribute to the stigma. Since 1986, Schizophrenia Awareness Week has been observed across the world from May 20th to May 27th, while World Schizophrenia Day is held every May 24th.

During this event, a number of programs and campaigns are organized around the world to raise awareness about the disorder and, at the same time, to help patients suffering from the illness gain more social acceptance. Keeping with the spirit of World Schizophrenia Day, we should all come together and help in eradicating the stigma and fear people have of schizophrenia. This way, no patient will feel alone or abandoned. This also encourages them to seek professional help. 

Additionally, whatever the reasons behind the illness are or how much they have affected the people around them, it is important that family and friends show their support for them. They need a strong support system to fight their condition and be encouraged to help themselves. One of the ways to celebrate this event is to get involved. You can get involved or be engaged in a number of ways. For instance, educate yourself and the people around you about the struggles experienced by individuals suffering from the condition. 

It would also be helpful to take part in conversations about schizophrenia and listen to people who have this condition. In this way, we understand more about their experiences or struggles and learn how we can help them. 

Causes and Treatment of Schizophrenia 

It is important to educate ourselves about this mental disorder. According to studies, there's still no identified single factor behind the development schizophrenia. It is reported that the reason might be an interaction between genes and a number of environmental factors. According to an article by Times Now News, the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia can be different from person to person. But generally, they experience delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, and bizarre or hyperactive behavior. 

The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation reported that people who suffer from schizophrenia are more likely to attempt suicide compared to the general population. It is estimated that more than 10% of them, especially young men, succeed a suicide in the first ten years of the illness. The World Health Organization also reported that people living with this debilitating brain and behavior disorder are two to three times more likely to die early than the general population. 

People who suffer from schizophrenia are more likely to attempt suicide compared to the general population / ysuel via Shutterstock

 

Fortunately, schizophrenia is treatable and there are medicines and psychosocial support available to help the patients. However, not everyone has access to it, especially in developing countries. Thus, programs in these countries have shown the feasibility of providing care to people with severe mental conditions through providing access to essential drugs, educating the public to decrease stigma and discrimination, and supporting families in providing home care.