The Stigma of Schizophrenia
How People with Schizophrenia are Stigmatized
One of the chief obstacles to the successful treatment and management of schizophrenia is the stigma often associated with the disorder.
This stigma can lead to severe discrimination that needlessly exacerbates the problems of individuals with schizophrenia.
Such discrimination limits the amount of resources for the treatment of schizophrenia, availability of housing, employment opportunities, and social interaction; problems that in turn further increase the stigma associated with the illness.
The stigma associated with schizophrenia leads to frequent misrepresentations in the media which help to perpetuate negative stereotypes.
The stigma associated with having schizophrenia can also have a negative impact on the course and outcome of the illness itself.
Finally, stigma because of schizophrenia affects not only those with the illness but also their families, caregivers, and healthcare providers.
Misconceptions about Schizophrenia
The general public and even health professionals tend to hold a stereotyped image of those with schizophrenia.
This image usually involves some or all of the following misconceptions:
In order to reduce the stigma and discrimination because of schizophrenia, it is necessary:
1) to change people's attitudes through education and outreach programs and
2) to change public policy and laws to reduce discrimination and increase legal protection for those with mental illness.
One specific strategy that can help reduce stigma and improve the quality of life for individuals with schizophrenia is to Increase use of treatment strategies that control symptoms while avoiding side effects.