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I've spent considerable time reflecting on the long-reaching impacts the difficult news can have on families.
It's hard to meet the needs of those impacted by this disorder when too many education programs fall short of equipping professionals and the public.
Along with everyone else, I have to admire Prince Harry for opening up about the impact that his mother's sudden and tragic death had on him, but I fear that his talk about mental-health issues and trauma will have a negative rather than a positive impact on our views of mental illness.
Premature death for those with schizophrenia results from a combination of poor treatment and preventative care these people receive from the medical system, and the failure to treat their mental illness appropriately and aggressively. In the U.S., it appears to be confounded by the lack of universal health care.
It is the 21st century and yet those in Ontario with serious mental illness and diabetes are receiving inadequate medical care compared to those with only diabetes. This was the finding from a study just published online ahead of the print journal by researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Science (ICES) and others.
Families who care for people with schizophrenia once had an organization that gave them a national voice. They no longer do. This lack of national representation impacts not just our own situations; it also hurts the people we support, because they are often unable to advocate on their own behalf.
I want my daughter's best interests to be represented by the numerous disability rights organizations that have appeared in recent years. Sadly, these organizations, like the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, too often promote policies that pose real dangers to her. It's important to understand why a group like this would decide to hold these positions.
To the people who care about them, once this young person chooses "the other way", all the people around them see is the consequences. "Didn't you know that if you did "X" you would end up "Y"". It is understandable for those around you to feel this because the process of suffering is so often done in the dark. The sufferers try to protect those around them and some feel that by minimizing it, it may go away.
Put simply, Whitaker and the Mad in America anti-psychiatry folks are adamant that anti-psychotic medication for schizophrenia makes people sick and shortens their lives. Research fails to support these contentions but they persist and the data is ignored.
Helping people to live life beyond the limitations of a mental illness with a sense of dignity, purpose, hope and meaning is called recovery. The hope of recovery changes everything: how we view the person, how we address stigma and discrimination and how we make mental health services accessible and available.