HEALTH

This Is What It's Like To Hear Voices When You Have Schizophrenia

18/09/2017 7:40 PM AEST | Updated 18/09/2017 7:40 PM AEST

Despite growing public awareness of mental health issues, schizophrenia remains a widely misunderstood illness.

According to a new survey from Rethink Mental Illness, 50% of people mistakenly think that schizophrenia means you have a 'split' personality while 26% believe that schizophrenia definitely makes you violent.

What more, 23% incorrectly think that someone with schizophrenia needs to be monitored by professionals at all times.

In light of the results, the charity has launched its 'Rethink Schizophrenia' campaign designed to help everyone separate the myths from the facts.

The campaign launches with a new video giving the public an insight into what it's like to hear voices when you have schizophrenia.

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Having schizophrenia can affect the way individuals think and behave. Problems concentrating or remembering, or experiencing delusions or hallucinations, such as hearing voices, are common.

According to Rethink Mental Illness, one in 100 people, or around 650,000 adults in the UK, have schizophrenia, but almost half of the general public (45%) surveyed thought the illness was much less common than this.

The survey of 1,500 people also found that many people are unaware of the inequalities and prejudice that someone living with schizophrenia can face.

A total of 61% didn't know that someone with schizophrenia will live on average 15-20 years less than the rest of the population.

This inequality is largely down to the fact that physical health problems are often missed or put down to mental illness, or because of complications from the side effects of medication.

What's more, while almost 60% of people think that someone with schizophrenia can do a full time job, the stark reality is that only 8% who are ready and want to work are currently employed.

Brian Dow, director of external affairs at Rethink Mental Illness said it's important to understand what "schizophrenia is and what it isn't" as "schizophrenia can be treated and managed, just like many other illnesses".

"It's not a dirty word or, worse, a term of abuse. Unfortunately, incorrect ideas are continuing to feed the prejudice and stigma people living with the illness still face in their everyday," he said.

"While the misconceptions that people with schizophrenia are always violent and need to be monitored somehow is particularly harmful, and untrue.

"Myths like this are dangerous as they have the ability to stop people getting jobs, forming relationships and even accessing life saving healthcare."

Dow added that the symptoms of schizophrenia don't fit neatly into a box and everyone will experience it differently.

"However we can all play a role in rethinking schizophrenia and helping to change attitudes, by learning to separate the myths from the facts," he said.

Useful websites and helplines:

  • SANE Australia, the SANE Helpline provides assistance from mental health professionals Monday to Friday, 10am to 10pm (AEST), on 1800 18 7263
  • Lifeline provides confidential telephone crisis support 24/7 from a landline, payphone or mobile. Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can contact Lifeline. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, trained volunteers are ready to listen, provide support and referrals. If you need crisis support call 13 11 14 now.
  • Headspace is a confidential, free and secure space where young people 12 - 25 or their family can chat, email or speak on the phone with a qualified youth mental health professional. Contact the service on 1800 650 890.

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