Let’s Make the World Schizo-FRIEND-ly: Greater Support for People with Schizophrenia

Did you know that the idea of a person living with Schizophrenia having multiple personalities, is actually a misconception?

In fact when you meet someone with this condition, and what you may experience on the surface as disrupted and jarring conversation that appears somewhat fragmented, is actually a result of the disruption of thought processes and nothing to do with having split or multiple personalities. 

Personal experience with Schizophrenia

A well-known TikTok personality Kendyl Culpepper who speaks openly about her experience living with Schizophrenia, describes in a video an incident of interrupting a lady at the checkout of a supermarket with a random burst of dialogue that related to the lady’s card declining, because she thought she’d heard the lady say something, but it was a symptom of her Schizophrenia. Kendyl, who has a great understanding of the characteristics and quirks of her disability, was able to explain what happened in her quirky and bubbly way, and also ended up paying for the lady’s groceries. 

She has also called out people for calling her Schizophrenia “a gift” or saying that she’s “a medium”  in her comments section, even though she says anyone living with Schizophrenia would not call it a gift. There are some very serious, if untreated, realities that are pretty bleak for someone living with Schizophrenia. Kendyl has a great sense of humour about it, but acknowledges that she was almost sent to a mental institution (in the US) due to her disability.

Understanding Schizophrenia, Symptoms and Misconceptions

Schizophrenia is one of the most misunderstood and stigmatised mental illnesses. According to the WHO, Schizophrenia affects approx. 24 million people or 1 in 300 people worldwide yet there is still so much to learn about its direct causes and effective treatments. 

First identified in 1887 by Dr. Emile Kraepelin, Schizophrenia is characterised by a range of symptoms including hallucinations (such as hearing voices) and delusions (false beliefs), as well as reduction in motivation, emotional expression, speech, affected memory and decision-making skills. 

These symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and manifest in men in their late teens to early 20s, while women usually show symptoms in their late 20s to early 30s.

Causes of Schizophrenia

The exact cause of Schizophrenia is still unknown, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Schizophrenia has one of the strongest genetic links of any psychiatric illness. For instance, children or siblings of individuals with schizophrenia are ten times more likely to develop the condition. Environmental factors, such as exposure to certain viruses in early infancy and the use of certain drugs can trigger the onset of Schizophrenia in susceptible individuals.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Antipsychotics and Early Intervention

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) as well as Antipsychotic drugs have been game-changers in treating Schizophrenia.  The drugs manage symptoms by blocking dopamine receptors. However, the medication side-effects can actually worsen the negative symptoms of this condition and have side effects, such as weight gain. Newer generations of antipsychotics target multiple neurotransmitters, like serotonin, to address these issues. In lieu of medications failing, some success has been found in CBT as a way to decrease the negative consequences the symptoms have on a person’s daily functioning.

Early intervention is crucial to being able to treat Schizophrenia before it can become entrenched in a person’s personality. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that there is still so much stigma associated with Schizophrenia (from horror movies past, from media portrayals of people living with this condition, and the general societal mistreatment of people living with disabilities) which often prevents individuals from seeking help early on.

Advocating for greater funding of mental health services

Greater funding for mental health services is essential to creating more support and access to early intervention and treatment. Increased financial support would enable more extensive research into the causes and treatments of schizophrenia and improve access to support services. It’s important that we continue to advocate for better mental health funding that can significantly enhance the quality of life for those affected.

Raising Awareness on World Schizophrenia Awareness Day

World Schizophrenia Awareness Day, observed on May 24th, highlights the need for understanding and supporting those living with Schizophrenia. We hope to contribute to the conversation in a positive way and help make this world friendlier and more inclusive for people living with Schizophrenia

At Helping Solutions, we are dedicated to providing robust mental health support services. Our team of compassionate professionals offers tailored care to meet the unique needs of each individual. We believe in the power of understanding, empathy, and evidence-based practices to support those living with schizophrenia and other mental health conditions. Visit our Mental Health Services page to learn more about how we support mental health in our community.

As the world observes World Schizophrenia Awareness Day, let’s challenge the stigma, generate greater collective understanding, and create communities of support. By advocating for increased funding and resources, we can help ensure that we are more equipped to help people who really need that understanding and compassion. 

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