May 24th is Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day

May 24th is Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day, an annual event dedicated to educating the public and showing support for those living with schizophrenia or psychosis. This event is an opportunity for our Stigma-Free community to come together and address the harmful stigma that surrounds both schizophrenia and psychosis. Today, we are starting a conversation about the effects of stigma and the importance of awareness, education, and support. We are also sharing no-cost resources for school staff to educate students on mental health, and for people living in rural communities to reduce stigma in their communities.

The Impact of Stigma

Although schizophrenia is not as widely discussed as other mental illnesses like depression or anxiety, it is more common than you might think: about 24 million people across the world are living with schizophrenia. Despite its prevalence, misconceptions and stigma persist. The stigma surrounding schizophrenia and psychosis can lead to devastating outcomes. It delays and prevents people from seeking out treatment, and leads to social isolation and discrimination. Self-stigma is even associated with an increased risk of suicide. But there is hope – for individuals living with schizophrenia who are struggling with self-stigma, receiving support from loved ones greatly decreases the risk of suicide and can make a life-changing difference in their treatment and recovery journey. Creating change and eliminating stigma can save lives, and that is why we have made this our core mission at Stigma-Free Mental Health.

Breaking the Stigma

On Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day, let’s come together to educate ourselves about schizophrenia, including its symptoms and treatment. You can participate by listening to others’ journeys and amplifying their voices to encourage better understanding. Learn about the stories of people like Cam, one of our amazing presenters involved in our Stigma-Free Virtual Presentations who experienced psychosis. On May 24th, you can wear a silver ribbon, a symbol of solidarity with people impacted by schizophrenia. You may also wish to support local organizations dedicated to mental health advocacy by donating or volunteering.

Raise awareness about Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day for those who may not have heard of the event, and spark discussions about psychosis, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. There is nothing shameful about living with mental illness, and simply talking about it can help educate others and reduce stigma. Make the commitment to live Stigma-Free by taking the Stigma-Free Pledge and trying the Stigma-Free Tool. If you are an educator or parent/guardian, we invite you to try these activities with youth. All these small actions contribute to a world where all individuals living with schizophrenia or psychosis are treated with dignity and respect.

Support on the Road to Recovery

Recovery from schizophrenia and psychosis is possible. Like all individuals living with mental illness, with the proper treatment and support, people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia or psychosis can lead fulfilling, productive lives. To ensure that individuals living with schizophrenia or psychosis get the help they need, it is important to provide a space where they feel comfortable telling others about symptoms they may be experiencing.

Support from loved ones is an important part of recovery, and it can lead to earlier intervention and treatment. We also need to create access to resources and education, not only for individuals living with schizophrenia, but for their friends, family, and community. If you or someone you know is in need of mental health support, we invite you to visit our Help & Community Resources page.

Education and Awareness

Education is the key to dispelling misconceptions about psychosis, schizophrenia, and all mental illnesses. By learning about symptoms, available treatments, and others’ experiences, we can become better advocates. It is particularly important to raise mental health awareness in rural communities as those living with mental illness in rural areas often experience more stigma than individuals living in urban areas.

If you live in a rural community and are looking for mental health resources that reduce stigma and make a difference in your community, visit our Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit. Educators in both rural and urban areas can browse our Student Mental Health Toolkit for lesson plans, interactive student activities, and more. The Toolkit was created to help school staff provide mental health education to the next generation and offers resources on a wide range of topics, from Coping with Mental Health to supporting peers who are facing mental health challenges.

Raising awareness about schizophrenia and psychosis is crucial for creating an inclusive, stigma-free environment for individuals living with mental illness. Through education and understanding, we can encourage everyone to seek help when they need it and live fulfilling lives. Spread the word about Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day and join us in our mission to create a stigma-free world.

By: Monique Zizzo

References:
CMHA recognizes National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day. (2023, May 17).

Jian CR, Wang PW, Lin HC, Huang MF, Yeh YC, Liu TL, Chen CS, Lin YP, Lee SY, Chen CH, Wang YC, Chang YP, Chen YL, Yen CF. Association between Self-Stigma and Suicide Risk in Individuals with Schizophrenia: Moderating Effects of Self-Esteem and Perceived Support from Friends. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Nov 16;19(22):15071. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192215071.

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