The results of a survey commissioned by Janssen-Cilag Pty Limited in partnership with the Mental Illness Fellowship Australia (MIFA) ahead of the 2015 Schizophrenia Awareness Week showed some disturbing responses and poor understanding of mental illness, in particular schizophrenia.
The survey involving 1,000 Australians, including 54 cares, revealed four in 10 Australians (43.6%)1 admit they have no or limited understanding of what schizophrenia is despite almost one in four (23.2%)1 knowing someone with the illness.
More alarming is that half of Australians (54.5%)1 admit there is a greater stigma around schizophrenia than other mental illnesses in society with over three quarters (84%)1 revealing they would not tell an employer about their schizophrenia diagnosis – with half admitting this would be out of fear of being judged or missing out on job opportunities.1
Research released in May also found that one in four (26.2%)1 Australian families caring for a loved one with schizophrenia do not talk to family and friends about the care they provide, highlighting the isolation and challenges of caring for someone with schizophrenia. So too are lost friendships, relationship break down and issues with family due to their caring role.
“Shining a spotlight on Carers” was a unique awareness-raising activity in the week leading up to Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2015 which drew interest from the community as well as media attention. The ‘Don’t Be Left In The Dark’ campaign involved placing a large perspex box in two public settings in the Sydney CBD. In the box was a person representing a carer searching for information on Schizophrenia. Despite the wintery weather, people were drawn to the installation, peering into the little side holes and generally observing the person inside. The installation was a powerful representation of how it feels to be a carer of someone living with Schizophrenia and the stigma placed on them as a carer. To read the story and view the installation visit www.fullstoryschizophrenia.com.au.
Schizophrenia affects 1 in 100 people. This means that there are up to 200,000 Australians with schizophrenia; these are real people with real lives and real families. Schizophrenia is an illness like any other illness, instead of affecting the liver or heart it affects the brain. With the right support recovery is very possible for people living with schizophrenia.
1. Survey commissioned by Janssen in partnership with the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, conducted by Pure Profile in April 2015.