On this National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day, CMHA Ontario wants to bring light to these serious mental illnesses and stamp out myths and misinformation that may be associated with these conditions.
Every May 24, people and organizations come together to raise awareness about schizophrenia and psychosis. According to the World Health Organization, schizophrenia affects approximately 24 million people, or one in 300 people, worldwide.
This illness is characterised by significant impairments in perception and changes in behaviour. Symptoms may include persistent delusions, hallucinations, disorganised thinking, highly disorganized behaviour or extreme agitation.
People with schizophrenia have a life expectancy 10-20 years below that of the general population. However, it is treatable with medication, psychoeducation, family interventions and/or psychosocial rehabilitation.
Similarly, psychosis is a medical condition affecting the mind that involves some loss of contact with reality. It tends to emerge in later teen years or early adulthood. About three per cent of the population will experience an episode of psychosis at some point in their life. Psychosis can happen to anyone, but it also treatable, and recovery is expected.
Schizophrenia and psychosis traditionally have stigma attached to them, but it is possible to live and thrive with these conditions. Some tips to support mental wellness in individuals who experience schizophrenia or psychosis include:
- Prioritize sleep (eight-plus hours)
- Get plenty of fresh air and spend time outdoors
- Eat well
- Limit alcohol and other drugs, which can make symptoms worse
- If prescribed medication, follow doctor’s guidance and instructions
- Seek out peer support so you can share similar experiences and relate to others experiencing similar symptoms