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(FYI - This is Mental Illness Aware Week Oct 5-11)
Awareness about depression and bipolar has improved greatly, but can we do the same for schizophrenia? Abi Jackson reports ahead of World Mental Health Day.
AS head of empowerment and social inclusion at the Mental Health Foundation, David Crepaz-Keay is in a good position to talk about ‘living with schizophrenia’, the focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day next week. Perhaps what qualifies him most though, is that he himself has been “living with the diagnosis of schizophrenia” for 35 years, since his teens.
Despite being one of the most common serious mental illnesses, schizophrenia remains one of the least understood; lots of people still associate it with the very damaging – and inaccurate – notion of a “split personality”.
Schizophrenia does involve a range of difficult and distressing symptoms, though, including hallucinations, delusions and paranoia, confusion and behaviour changes. The illness tends to present in episodes – a person might withdraw from usual activities, seem unable to communicate ‘normally’ and feel emotionally ‘flat’, with varying degrees of psychosis.
Symptoms can also be ongoing and constant. However, more than 50 per cent of people diagnosed cannot access adequate treatment; something David, among many others, would like to see change.