Page 17 - Hot News October 2014
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This year’s World Mental Health Day will focus on living with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia has nothing to do with “split personality”. The term actually means “split mind”, referring to changes in mental function whereby thoughts and perceptions become disordered.
Symptoms of schizophrenia:
Individuals experience these symptoms in different combinations and to different extents. Schizophrenia is not a static condition. At any time a person may be experiencing severe symptoms, mild symptoms or none at all.
• Delusions – These are false beliefs. These can include beliefs of persecution, of guilt, of having a special mission or of being under outside control.
• Hallucinations – These are false beliefs. Hallucinations most commonly involve hearing voices, but can also involve seeing, feeling, tasting or smelling things. These are perceived as very real to the person experiencing them. Hallucinations can be very frightening; especially in cases where voices make negative comments about the person or contain unpleasant ideas.
Because the delusions and hallucinations are so real to the individual experiencing them it is unlikely they will want to consider an alternative explanation. It is important to take into account people’s cultural backgrounds and the possibility that delusions can derive from real experience (such as emotional trauma).
• Thinking difficulties – There may be difficulties in concentration, memory and ability to plan. These make it more difficult for the person to reason, communicate and complete daily tasks. These are also sometimes called
improvement. Around 50% will have a long-term illness, which may involve further episodes of becoming unwell and times of being better.
MYTH 4: People with schizophrenia need to be monitored at all times
FACT: When people with schizophrenia are getting access to the treatment and support they need, there is no reason why they cannot lead happy and productive lives. Some people with schizophrenia live with family or in supported housing, but many of those affected live independently and are active members of society.
MYTH 5: People with schizophrenia are dangerous
FACT: Violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia and people with the illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.
cognitive impairments.
• Loss of drive – The person lacks motivation and this can extend even to self-care. This should not be interpreted as laziness.
• Blunted emotions – The person has a lack of emotions or has inappropriate emotions.
• Social withdrawal – Social withdrawal is a common feature of people experiencing psychosis. The longer the treatment is delayed, the more socially withdrawn an individual is likely to become.
Rethink Mental Illness conducted a survey in 2011 that suggested 90 per cent of us cannot separate fact from fiction when it comes to perceptions about schizophrenia.
MYTH 1: People with schizophrenia have a split personality
FACT: This is the most common myth, but it’s completely false. The word “schizophrenia” literally translated means “split mind”, which has caused a lot of confusion. People with schizophrenia do sometimes experience delusions and hallucinations but they do not have two separate personalities.
MYTH 2: People with schizophrenia have the same physical health as everyone else
FACT: Many people do not realise the impact schizophrenia has on people’s physical health. The physical effects of mental illness, combined with the side effects of anti-psychotic medication and lifestyle factors mean people with the illness have a life expectancy 20 years lower than average.
MYTH 3: People with schizophrenia can’t recover
FACT: Around 30% of people with schizophrenia will have a lasting recovery and around 20% will show significant
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service continue to be a
“Mindful Employer” and are renewing their signatory within the Charter for Employers who are positive about mental health:
As an employer we recognise that:
• People who have mental health issues may have experienced discrimination in recruitment and selection procedures. This may discourage them from seeking employment.
• Whilst some people will acknowledge their experience of mental health issues in a frank and open way, others fear that stigma will jeopardise their chances of getting a job.
• Given appropriate support, the vast majority of people who have experienced mental ill health continue to work successfully, as do many with ongoing issues.
As an employer we aim to:
• Show a positive and enabling attitude to employees and job applicants with mental health issues. This will include positive statements in local recruitment literature.
• Ensure that all staff involved in recruitment and selection are briefed on mental health issues and The Equality Act 2010 and given appropriate interview skills.
• Make it clear in any recruitment, or occupational health check, that people who have experienced mental health issues will not be discriminated against and that disclosure of a mental health problem will enable both employee and employer to assess and provide the right level of support or adjustment.
• Not make assumptions that a person with a mental health problem will be more vulnerable to workplace stress or take more time off than any other employee or job applicant.
• Provide non-judgmental and proactive support to individual staff who experience mental health issues.
• Ensure all line managers have information and training about managing mental health in the workplace.
For more information about the Mindful Employer commitment, please visit
Any person concerned about their mental health should contact their GP in the first instance. Professional support, advice and counselling therapy can also be sought from the Service’s Employee Assistance Programme.

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