Families and Friends
A Message for Caregivers
A Message for Teens
Arm Yourself with the Facts
Consequences of Stigma
Myths About Schizophrenia
What Causes Schizophrenia?
How the Brain Operates
The Course and Outcome
Stepping Stones to Recovery
The Stereotype of Violence
Schizophrenia at School,
Work, and in Relationships
Links to Other Resources
Myth / Most
people with schizophrenia cant work.
Fact / People with schizophrenia can workeven
if they have symptoms.
Several studies have shown that people with major mental illnesses fare
better if they work. The ability to hold a job is not necessarily related
to the severity of the persons illness. British and American studies
have shown that people with schizophrenia are more likely to stay out
of hospital if they are employed. While many people with schizophrenia
are able to work successfully in competitive fulltime employment, for
others part-time or volunteer work is best.
Work is a vital part of rehabilitation. It increases self esteem, reconnects
the ill individual to the community, and provides a meaningful way to
Myth / Jail is an appropriate place for people
Fact / Jails and prisons are frequently used
to warehouse the mentally ill and get them off the streets. In Ontario,
Canada, 15-20% of inmates have a psychiatric illness and 5-7% are considered
to be seriously mentally ill. The mentally ill most often end up in prison
because of vagrancy offenses, substance abuse, or minor property crimes.
They frequently fail to show up for court appearances, leading to further
charges and jailtime.
Jails and prisons typically have very inadequate
psychiatric services. Mentally ill prisoners receive little or no treatment.
Moreover, they are subjected to a "double punishment." If they
are housed with the general prison population, their abnormal behavior
leads to beatings and abuse by other prisoners. If they are segregated
for their protection, they lose all social contact and the isolation often
worsens their symptoms.
Coming Face to Face With Schizophrenia at School,
Work and in Relationships / Today, many people diagnosed with schizophrenia
are in school, at work, and are parents and spouses. The winner of the
1994 Nobel Prize for Mathematics, John Nash, has lived with schizophrenia
for thirty years. By providing a supportive environment and proper medication,
treatment and encouragement, we can enable people who experience schizophrenia
to be productive members of our community.
However, negative portrayals of people who
experience schizophrenia in television, movies and other media outlets,
continue to perpetuate the stigma and further activates discrimination.
As one woman said, "When you go into
the hospital for a broken leg, people send flowers or they visit you.
If you go to the hospital for a mental illness, people dont send
flowers. They dont visit."
Open the Doors / Many patients report that
consistent support from parents, friends, medical professionals or teachers
was a major factor in their rehabilitation.
Here are a few quotes from people who have
"One night the police pulled me over for expired plates
on my car. It was dark. The lights were flashing. I was terrified and
shaking. When the policeman approached my car, I was so scared I couldnt
speak. He accused me of being uncooperative. I managed to say that I had
schizophrenia. What does that have to do with anything? he
Married for five years
Diagnosed with schizophrenia three years ago
"I was pregnant when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. My friends
parents asked: When is the abortion going to take place?"
Diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1988
Public speaker for the Schizophrenia Society of Canada
Today there are voices of hope.
"I had just received my college degree in English when
I was diagnosed with schizophrenia eighteen years ago. For a long time,
I couldnt concentrate enough to read. But with my new medication,
I can read again. I play the viola and love the Bach cello suites."
Bachelor's degree in English literature
Plays viola with a local orchestra
Has lived with schizophrenia for 18 years
What can you do?
- Be aware of the words you use. "Crazy", "loony",
"schizo" are hurtful words.
- Help make others aware of how our words and attitudes hurt. Dont
laugh along with cruel jokes. Let other know ignorance hurts.
- Stand by those who may be suffering early symptoms of mental illness.
- Get involved. Call your local Schizophrenia Support group. If there
is not one available in your community or if you would like more information
on the Worldwide Program to Fight Stigma and Discrimination, contact
the World Psychiatric Associationby phone, fax or e-mailto
find out about national programs in your country.