25th July is Schizophrenia Awareness Day 2022, a day devoted to raising awareness of the challenges often faced by those living with schizophrenia. It is believed that schizophrenia will affect 1 in 100 people at some point in their life and we look to tackle the negative and damaging stigma that can surround this illness.

As a mental health charity with expertise in understanding schizophrenia, Support in Mind Scotland recognise the importance of acknowledging the experiences of people with schizophrenia and providing them with information on resources available to support them.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a long-term severe mental health condition that affects the way individuals think, feel and act. It develops at a relatively young age, usually between the ages of 15 and 35.

The illness can cause a range of different psychological symptoms including psychosis. Psychosis means that an individual can often not distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality.

Other common symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and a general loss of interest in life. However, contrary to what the media says, Schizophrenia does not always cause an individual to be violent or have a split personality.

Schizophrenia can be a scary, often isolating mental health condition with many preferring to avoid friends and family for fear of how they will be perceived.

Support in Mind Scotland Challenging the Stigma

It is estimated that approximately 12000 people in Scotland have Schizophrenia. Here at Support in Mind Scotland, we are dedicated to supporting those who experience mental health struggles including Schizophrenia and actively challenge the stigma that has come to be associated with this mental health condition.

In 1995, Support in Mind Scotland started the Hearing Voices Network in Fife, a project that was created by people who hear voices and is still going strong. We now offer this service to people in Perth & Kinross and in Angus.

We’re committed to help people live around the voices they hear and other symptoms of psychosis, like invasive thoughts. We share information about what’s worked for others and support people to develop their own strategies to improve their lives.

Lee, who works with Hearing Voices and supports her son with Schizophrenia, describes her experience as a carer:

“It can take a heavy toll emotionally and it has also affected the rest of the family. One of his brothers showed us an essay he had done at school and the closing line was: ‘Schizophrenia is a thief that stole my brother from me.’

As a carer, there are a lot of practical things to deal with too. All these phone calls to housing officers, social workers, CPNs, they all take up a lot of time.

On the positive side, I have been able to use my role and experience as his mum and as a carer to help other people who experience hearing voices. I have a massive amount of empathy for people that do hear voices and am able to give them coping strategies. I think that’s all you can do – try to turn it into something positive.”

 

If you experience Schizophrenia, you are not alone. Here are a list of resources and services that can help:

Support in Mind Scotland

Here at Support in Mind Scotland we offer a range of support to those suffering with mental health conditions and their families. In addition to Hearing Voices, our national information service can help to sign post individuals to local support that best fits their individual needs.

Caring Connections is a support system that offers advice and reassurance to the family / friends of those who are being treated within forensic mental health services. As well as providing all round support, caring connections also inform families of their rights while their relative / friend is receiving treatment in a forensic mental health institution.

Clic Peer Support is an online community established by Mental Health UK that seeks to encourage individuals to discuss their mental health with other likeminded users.

Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland seek to empower individuals and carers by influencing Scottish Ministers and policy makers to improve care and treatment for people with mental illnesses.

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness seek to ensure that those affected by mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia have a good quality of life. Rethink strive to achieve this through their network of local groups and services as well as dedicated campaigning and providing expert information.