Schizophrenia Awareness Week: 23 to 29 May 2021

In 1992, the World Health Organisation (WHO) shared their international research on schizophrenia and the results were shocking: people in developing countries had better outcomes when compared with people in developed countries. These surprising findings raised the question, how could richer countries with more resources and sophisticated healthcare systems have poorer outcomes?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that alters a person’s perception of reality and disturbs thoughts, emotions and behaviour. It is highly misunderstood and stigmatised, yet it is a common illness. About 1 in 100 Australians have schizophrenia (Healthdirect Australia, 2020). Based on current population statistics for Baulkham Hills-Hawkesbury, an estimated 2,277 people in our community are affected by this illness. It’s likely that you know a friend, neighbour or colleague living with schizophrenia.

What is clear from the WHO studies is that schizophrenia affects people all over the world and psychosocial factors have a direct impact on outcomes. These studies invite us to learn from other cultures and their values. A consumer from a developing country once shared with me that in his community there is a strong sense of ownership and support – where ‘your problem is everyone’s problem’. We know that social isolation plays a big role in poor patient outcomes and much can be learnt from observing other cultures and their social and community constructs. Strong family ties, community and a sense of belonging are all predictors for good outcomes for people living with schizophrenia.

In our service, we encounter culturally diverse people from all walks of life, and we witness firsthand that schizophrenia does not discriminate. As mental health nurses, we are fortunate to have people share their lived experiences with us and allow us to be a part of their journey. You can read about pathophysiology and medications for treatment in textbooks, but what a textbook cannot teach you is what each person’s experience means to them, how their symptoms impact their lives and what will help them in their journey towards recovery.

The theme for Schizophrenia Awareness Week in 2021 is “Discover Better Mental Health”. We invite you to discover better mental health by having these conversations in the community and taking these learnings to find new ways to support each other.


Baulkham Hills-Hawkesbury statistics:




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