Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Scrap the Schizo

I have a friend who is a journalist (or was, before she gave in to motherhood) and she showed me today, via email, how to send a press release - and wrote one for me!  I am really taking a big step out into the open now - but one that I feel is very necessary.

I linked the article from the Western Daily Press to Twitter the other day, and Katy, who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia, responded with a comment  of 'If people read it and realise that schizophrenia does not equal dangerous, we'll be laughing!'

Karen's press release chimes with that, and makes a really important point about the damage done by labelling.  Here it is:

Scrap the Schizo

In a week when schizophrenia once again hits the headlines, author and mental health campaigner, Louise Gillett, says it’s time to scrap the label.
I was diagnosed with schizophrenia 25 years ago,” says Louise, “and I’m not mad, bad or dangerous to know. I’m just an ordinary mum doing the school run.”

The headlines are wrong when they say someone has killed because of ‘schizophrenia’. These people kill because they are violent, and violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia. Yes, voices in your head can tell you to do some pretty crazy things, but the vast majority of people with schizophrenia do not act upon them. It is time to distinguish between the criminals with mental illness and those who are just ill, and because the association between schizophrenia and violence has become part of the public consciousness, this can only be done by changing the label of schizophrenia.”

If the diagnosis was changed tosomething less damaging – such as ‘thought disorder’ – then people could get on with the business of recovery without being held back by the shame and stigma of the word itself. It would be a quick and easy change to make and a very humane one.Many other countries, such as Japan and New Zealand, have already taken this step, and it has revolutionized treatment there.”

Louise was diagnosed with schizophrenia in her late teens, but has now fully recovered.“Schizophrenia is supposed to be an illness that people do not recover from, so officially I'm simply “in remission”. But I am confident that I’m not much more at risk of mental ill health than any other member of the public. The only unusual thing about me is that I’ve stuck my head above the parapet. I may have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, but I’m neither insane nor violent. There are so many people out there like me – good mums, useful members of society, terrified to reveal their diagnosis in case they get shunned at the school gate.”

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