How can you help?

By reading this section and educating yourself about schizophrenia, you have taken the first step to help eliminate misperceptions about this devastating illness. Now you can help stop perpetuating the cycle of misinformation that surrounds schizophrenia. When you see someone with mental illness being made fun of in the media, don’t laugh. Tell whoever you’re with that the joke is inappropriate and unkind. Try not to use adjectives as nouns. To call someone a “schizophrenic” implies that they are defined more by their disease than by their personality.

When you see someone who appears to be mentally ill, don’t be afraid - most likely he or she wants to be left alone and has no intention to harm others. Volunteer for a mental health research agency like NARSAD or NAMI, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. In so doing you might come into contact with family members, friends, or people with mental illness who can increase your understanding about these disorders.

Finally, talk to others about mental illness. Share the knowledge you have and continue to learn more. The key to eradicating stigma is through increasing understanding.

Future Directions
Each year, more young people are diagnosed with schizophrenia. These individuals lose touch with their own reality and live in a confusing and often scary world. Physical diseases such as cancer or AIDS receive a great deal of financial support because they cause great sadness for many patients and their families.

Although schizophrenia is not in itself a deadly disease, it causes equal pain. Because someone with schizophrenia is often so removed from reality, many families feel as though they have lost a loved one. To this end, researchers must continue studying what causes this mental illness and how to treat it. The government and private philanthropic organizations are needed to continue to fund research that will help us to learn more about schizophrenia. Until we can completely prevent or cure schizophrenia, there remains work to be done.

Heather Barnett Veague, Ph.D.
Heather Barnett Veague attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and received her Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University in 2004. She is the author of several journal articles investigating information processing and the self in borderline personality disorder. Currently, she is the Director of Clinical Research for the Laboratory of Adolescent Sciences at Vassar College. Dr. Veague lives in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.


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