Thursday, 7 March 2013

'Schizophrenia' in New Zealand

After I sent out the 'Scrap the Schizo' press release yesterday I had a niggling doubt about the veracity of what I had written - I wanted to check the status of 'schizophrenia' in New Zealand.  I know they have changed the name of the condition in Japan - the result has been that many more people have been diagnosed now that the stigma has been removed from the label (which just goes to show that schizophrenia is the sort of illness that is not easy to categorise and that there is a lot of crossover with other types of mental illness, or manifestations of emotional distress depending on how you look at it).  Phew, that was a sentence and a half...

Are you still with me?  Well, I was not so sure about the situation in New Zealand - I knew I should have checked my facts before I put the press release out.  So I emailed the Mental Health Foundation in New Zealand last night to check on the situation, and their Information Officer, Rachel Evans, got back to me this morning.  She said that the term schizophrenia is indeed still in use there, although young people are usually diagnosed with 'early psychosis' rather than 'schizophrenia', due to the desire not to stigmatise and the fact that the conditon may only be transitory.  I believe that is the situation here in the UK too.

So - slightly embarrassing, but if anyone gets back to me about the press release, I will just have to tell them that I got that detail about the name change in New Zealand wrong.

And, by the way, here's a really comprehensive article on the subject which I just came across while I was trying to find out whether any other countries have effected a name change for the condition:


  1. Hi, Louise,
    If you can dig out the Japan research about more people being diagnosed since the name change, that ought to be something that MIA would like to share with its readers. Not a good outcome, if that is the case. Personally, I wonder what they thought was so negative about mind-split disease. The "mind" itself, since it isn't physical, can't be split; it can be undecided, and lots of people speak of being "of two minds." It would be far worse if they called it "split brain disease," which conjures up some horrible diagnosible fissure in the brain tissues.

  2. Will have another look later - it is something I am quite sure I read, but I just haven't got the time to unearth it now!