The label does not help

Carer of a young man

I am a carer of a young man diagnosed with psychosis who then went on to being diagnosed with schizophrenia. It has been an 'interesting' experience to say the least. One day you have a normal child with a whole future ahead of him the next you have a child that has been labeled as schizophrenic and being written off by many people including the medical profession.

You attend meeting after meeting with CPNs and psychiatrists and no one takes the time to explain what is happening to your relative. All they want is background history and circumstances leading up to the illness. Then one day they go from describing your relative as being unwell to being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Does the label help? No, it just puts that person in the category of being dangerous. Let's face it: all you ever hear on the news about people diagnosed with schizophrenia is when they 'kill a member of the public'. No one tells the stories of how these people are victimised by others, when they are being attacked because other people do not realise that they are behaving differently because they are ill.

Does the label help? It closes the door on people diagnosed with schizophrenia; it places them in the category of being dangerous and out of control, likely to lose control at any time. The average person knows very little about schizophrenia other than what is portrayed in the media....and that is always negative. As a result they are reluctant to be educated about Mental Health issues and how they affect different people. With schizophrenia being associated with 'killing innocent people' it does not leave many avenues for ordinary people to become interested or sympathetic.

Does it help being diagnosed with schizophrenia? No, it increases the chances of individuals being Sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The psychiatric hospitals are another story in is nothing short of disgraceful how patients are treated. It is not all bad but I have had some nightmare experiences with staff and doctors.

Families who have relatives diagnosed with schizophrenia cannot 'come out' because of the stigma - many people are not interested in helping - they use your personal stories as common gossip to fill the time of day. As such there is very little support from the extended family, whatever is going on you learn to keep it to yourself. Sometimes it is a hard burden to carry.

It is very sad but with ethnic minority families and communities mental health issues are always the elephant in the room. A lot of families have relatives diagnosed with some form of mental health - yet they say nothing.

My family have no idea that my child has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. As such they treat him as if he is normal. He is a young man and there are just too much stigma attached to mental health. Slowly but surely his episodes of being unwell have decreased over time. I am sure that given the right support and help he will go from strength to strength.

Do I think a diagnosis of schizophrenia is helpful? No, there is not enough education around it.