Monday, May 24, 2021

World Schizophrenia Day 2021: The Truths

Generally, people develop compassion for others who have a health condition, however, this is not the case when it comes to schizophrenia. World Schizophrenia Day (May 24th) is our opportunity to learn the facts about schizophrenia, and to reduce the fear, myths, and stigma that prolongs widespread negative perceptions. Schizophrenia is a widely misunderstood brain disorder that creates significant challenges for people. People with this the condition may experience a wide range of debilitating symptoms such as false beliefs and perceptions, bizarre behaviors, and confusion.

    World Schizophrenia Day was established to honor Dr. Philippe Pinel. Pinel acknowledged the humanity of his patients. He ordered staff to remove the chains and advocated for better treatment. Frequently, people identify schizophrenia as a personality disorder, which is a myth. Schizophrenia is a thought disorder characterized by psychosis, which is a break in reality. Schizophrenia is not dissociative identity disorder otherwise known as multiple personality disorder or split personality disorder. Yet, the term schizophrenia can contribute to the misinformation about the type of illness which schizophrenia is a part of. In 1908, Eugen Bleuler coined the term schizophrenia that is the "splitting of the mind." The term refers to the brain’s inability to function and manage.

    The truth is schizophrenia is a manageable condition through a variety of approaches. For example, antipsychotic medications can help reduce the symptoms of psychosis, hallucinations, and delusions. These symptoms refer to the person’s lack of ability to distinguish what is real for them versus reality. Common delusions focus on the idea that an individual is Jesus Christ, the food has been poisoned, people are spying, or aim to attack and kill. Hallucinations can take on all five senses such as hearing and seeing things that others do not. Delusions and hallucinations are not imaginary or fantasy—these symptoms can be perceived as a real threat, belief, and experience despite alternative information and facts presented by family, friends, and professionals.

    Another approach to wellness is counseling. There may be individual and group therapy. The therapist will teach people how to manage symptoms by providing alternative coping strategies and ways to address events and stressors that affect the individual’s life. Peer support is another method to helping people learn about coping tools to control the symptoms. Self-help groups, outpatient programs, and peer centers may have peer support persons that are people with similar health conditions who offer insight and support to others on ways to manage recovery.

    World Schizophrenia Day is important to me because it restores genuine curiosity for this illness that will help breakdown the stigma. I look at my mental health condition as a medical illness that deserves a chance at discussion without judgment and prejudices. There are so many myths that overpowers the truths. 

    Still, recovery is possible. The truth is this condition like other severe health issues should promote education, support, and dignity. World Schizophrenia Day is a day to reflect, learn, and develop our understanding of schizophrenia to seek help, and to stop perpetuating the myths, discriminatory practices, and ostracizing. Let’s promote the truth—share the facts.


References/Facts

  • Britannica: Philippe Pinel, French Physician 
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) - Mental Health Information, Brochures and Fact Sheets: "Schizophrenia"
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): "Changing Focus: The Right to Treatment of Serious Mental Illness,"  Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD 
  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "History of Schizophrenia"
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