Discrimination and stigma plague Canadians with schizophrenia

    A new national report calls for greater public awareness about

    WINNIPEG, March 30 /CNW/ - According to a national report released today
by the Schizophrenia Societies across Canada, 60% of Canadians assume that
people living with schizophrenia are likely to act violently toward others.
Schizophrenia in Canada: A National Report calls on Canadians, health care
professionals and government to support a National Mental Health Strategy that
addresses the disparities and inequities faced daily by those living with
schizophrenia and their family members.
    The report describes different factors affecting those with
schizophrenia, such as public perceptions and discrimination, quality of life,
access to health care services, access to medications, wait times and
government spending on mental health. These are key factors that illustrate
the standard of schizophrenia care in Canada.
    "While 92% of Canadians surveyed have heard of schizophrenia, most do not
understand what it is or its symptoms. In fact, the majority confuse it with
split personality disorder," said Chris Summerville, CEO, Schizophrenia
Society of Canada. "Misconceptions such as these lead to negative stereotyping
and stigma towards people living with schizophrenia."
    The report examines how stigma negatively impacts the lives of people
living with schizophrenia. Stigma causes gradual social isolation, making it
harder for them to seek the help and treatment they need to manage their
    The report found that people with schizophrenia also experienced
discrimination within the Canadian health care system. Schizophrenia in Canada
calls highlights the findings of a 2008 report by the Fraser Institute on
hospital waiting times, in which, physicians were asked to provide a
reasonable wait time to receive various medical treatments. On average
patients are waiting over six weeks longer for psychiatric treatment than is
deemed reasonable(1).
    "It is simply unacceptable that people living with schizophrenia wait an
average of 18.6 weeks from referral to receiving treatment for psychiatric
care," said Mr. Summerville. "Mental health must be considered a top priority
in the national and provincial wait time strategies."
    The research for Schizophrenia in Canada: A National Report was conducted
by Léger Marketing and supported through an unrestricted educational grant
from Pfizer Canada Inc.

    About the Schizophrenia Society of Canada
    The Schizophrenia Society of Canada began in 1979 and is dedicated to
improving the quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia and
psychosis through education, support programs, public policy and research. The
Society works with 10 provincial societies in a federation model to: raise
awareness and educate the public in order to reduce stigma and discrimination;
support families and individuals; advocate for legislative change; and support
research through the SSC Foundation and other independent efforts. All the
Societies are united through each organization's efforts and share a common
goal to raise awareness and educate the public in order to reduce stigma and

    (1) Source: Fraser Institute, Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists
        in Canada, 2008 Report.

For further information:

For further information: or to book an interview with Chris Summerville,
CEO, Schizophrenia Society of Canada, please contact: Jennifer Gordon,
Thornley Fallis Communications, (416) 515-7517 x 348,
gordon@thornleyfallis.com; Marissa Lukaitis, Thornley Fallis Communications,
(416) 515-7517 x 324, lukaitis@thornleyfallis.com

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