Canada-Wide Survey Addresses Ways to Improve Quality of Life for Canadians Living with Mental Illness...



    WINNIPEG, May 4 /CNW/ - Mental illness can be a devastating illness for
anyone; however, it is especially difficult for young adults as it often
disrupts their education, career plans and the raising of a young family. The
symptoms of psychosis can confuse the mind, disorient perceptions, and
unsettle important relationships with family and friends. But there is hope,
schizophrenia and psychosis are treatable and recovery of quality of life is
possible when people are able to find the right path to open up options for
treatment, support and hope.
    The Schizophrenia Society of Canada (SCC) recently commissioned a
Canada-wide survey to learn how it can support people living with
schizophrenia and their families to recover the best quality of life possible.
Through a qualitative and quantitative survey and cross Canada focus groups,
1,086 people with mental health experience shared what quality of life means
to them. The results revealed that people living with schizophrenia and their
families share similar hopes and frustrations regarding their quality of life.
    This extensive survey, the largest of its kind in North America,
highlighted certain key areas in which quality of life can be improved for
people living with a mental illness:

    Hope, optimism and a belief in recovery are critical to improving the
quality of life for people affected by schizophrenia and related mental health
disorders. While 96% of people living with mental illness believe recovery is
possible, families sometimes lose optimism in the face of illness and don't
always believe that professionals think recovery is possible.

    Friendships and family support are foundational. Symptoms of psychosis
can unsettle important relationships with family and friends and contribute to
isolation and loneliness. The support of friends and family is essential to
recovery, employment and greatly improves quality of life.

    Stigma and discrimination are real barriers to quality of life.
Approximately 90% of adults with serious mental illness are unemployed.
Studies show that many of them want to work and many can work. However, the
lack of rehabilitation programs and the prevalence of discrimination prevent
them from finding meaningful employment. Poverty is the unfortunate outcome.
Canadians living with mental illness also felt that treatment and support
services are severely under funded.

    Medications and services can foster recovery. While medications are
important, most people feel their family and professionals place far too much
focus on medication adherence and not enough on what supports recovery and
builds their quality of life.

    Family/caregivers need to find balance too. Families often carry a heavy
burden, as a result the mental, emotions and physical health of the entire
family can suffer. Having professional support, learning more about
schizophrenia and understanding what supports recovery would help families
cope.

    Overall, the Schizophrenia Society of Canada's national survey recommends
encouraging professionals to move beyond a narrow focus on managing symptoms
to supporting and nurturing recovery from a body, mind and spirit perspective.
Stigma and discrimination also need to be addressed through education, public
policies and promotion of rights. As well, funding of safe, affordable, secure
housing needs to become a priority as does meaningful employment.
    Full study report and summary data are available on the SSC website at
www.schizophrenia.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Chris Summerville - Chief Executive Officer,
Schizophrenia Society of Canada, Office: (204) 786-1616, Mobile: (204)
223-9158

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Schizophrenia Society of Canada

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