Charity marks 100 years of schizophrenia

It is 100 years since the term ‘schizophrenia’ was first coined, and to mark this anniversary the charity Rethink Mental Illness is today launching an independent expert commission on the condition, chaired by Sir Robin Murray, Professor of Psychiatric Research at Kings College, London.

Paul Jenkins, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness said: “Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are affected by schizophrenia. Yet too often they are forgotten and end up with a low quality of life, even dying 20 years younger than average.

"Schizophrenia can be a devastating illness, but it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right treatment, people with schizophrenia can live productive, happy lives but the vast majority just aren’t getting access to the support they need. This commission will ask the NHS, local authorities and economists what needs to change so that people affected and their families can live life to the full."

Anne Cooke, a Chartered Psychologist, says: "As Rethink points out, it is only for the last hundred years that people who have experiences, beliefs or fears that others around them do not share have been thought of as having an illness called 'schizophrenia'. Experts are divided as to whether this is a useful way to think of such experiences.  It has disadvantages as well as advantages. For example, the fear and discrimination that often go with having such a diagnosis, and the implication that people's own coping strategies and sources of support are insufficient. There is also a debate about whether 'antipsychotic' drugs are useful over the long term in particular."

Sir Robin Murray, Professor of Psychiatric Research at Kings College and chair of the commission said: "I hope the commission will put psychotic disorders at the centre of the thoughts of those making decisions in the NHS rather than at the periphery."