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Today is World Mental Health Day

worldmentalhealthdayWorld Mental Health Day is the annual global celebration of mental health education, awareness and advocacy.

Every year – on 10 October – the World Mental Health Foundation shine the spotlight on a particular aspect of mental ill health. The theme in 2014 is ‘living with schizophrenia’.

Schizophrenia affects around 26 million people across the world and is the focus of World Mental Health Day this year. Despite being a treatable disorder, more than 50% of people with schizophrenia cannot access adequate treatment, and 90% of people with untreated schizophrenia live in the developing world.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts but it’s actually a word that describes a number of symptoms that psychiatry has labelled a disorder. Not everyone with schizophrenia has the same symptoms and the definition of the disorder is wide, including a number of combinations of different things.

Schizophrenia may make it hard for people to judge reality and key features of early psychosis include:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Appetite disturbance
  • Marked unusual behavior
  • Feelings that are flat or seem inconsistent to others
  • Speech that is difficult to follow
  • Marked preoccupation with unusual ideas
  • Ideas of reference – thinking unrelated things have a special meaning, ie people on television talking to you
  • Persistent feelings of unreality
  • Changes in the way things appear, sound or smell.

Schizophrenia can occur in anyone but it’s a treatable disorder. Long term medication may be necessary for some people but talking therapies and self-help groups can also be effective.

Treatments

Most people with schizophrenia are prescribed drugs to reduce the positive symptoms. The drugs may be prescribed for long periods and may have unpleasant side effects. Some people need a great deal of help in managing the symptoms of schizophrenia. Others find ways to cope with experiences such as hearing voices and do not necessarily wish to receive any treatment. Sometimes, people in an acute phase of the illness may need to be admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act for their own, or other people’s safety. People with schizophrenia are not usually dangerous to other people; they are more at risk of harm from others, or themselves.  Many people who are at risk of relapse carry Crisis Cards or have written up Advance Directives stating how they would like to be treated and what they do and do not find helpful. Mental health professionals do not have to follow these instructions, but it is considered good practice to take the person’s wishes into account.

Getting Help

If you, or someone you care for, are experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia you may wish to contact your GP who can prescribe drug treatments and refer you for psychiatric help. You may also be referred to social services and the local community mental health team who can support you at home. If you need urgent support or you feel like harming or hurting yourself or anyone else, call 999 or go to the nearest hospital accident and emergency department. You can search for your local department through the NHS Choices website. If your need is less urgent, you can contact the NHS Direct helpline on 111, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

For more information visit: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk