TORONTO, Sept. 24 /CNW/ - "Heavy use of cannabis is increasingly
recognized as an important factor in causing schizophrenia. It probably
accounts for between 8 and 15% of causes, and is a growing problem because of
the increasing potency of modern street preparations of cannabis. Who goes
psychotic on cannabis is determined partly by the age at which people start -
the earlier in adolescence the worse - and partly by genetic vulnerability,"
states Professor Robin Murray a leading psychiatrist at the Institute of
Psychiatry in London, UK.
Dr. Murray and his colleagues have identified a number of genes that
increase the risk of schizophrenia and several environmental factors have been
established. Researchers have learned that these risk factors operate by
causing dysregulation of dopamine and that this underlies the symptoms of
schizophrenia. The possible causes of schizophrenia, an illness that has been
so misunderstood by doctors and the general public alike, are now coming to
Professor Robin Murray will be sharing his expertise at the 7th biennial
"International Conference: Lighting the Path: Hope in Action". The conference
is a collaboration between three organizations, the World Fellowship for
Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders, the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, and
the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario. For the first time ever it is being held
in Toronto at the Delta Chelsea Inn, Toronto.
Delegates have travelled from all across the globe to attend this
conference, as well as a strong panel of leading scientists and researchers
who will be presenting over the three days. This also includes researcher Dr.
John Roder, who will join the Saturday Science Panel. Dr. Roder was recently
in the media spotlight for his published findings in the journal Neuron. Here
he demonstrated how schizophrenia can be caused by a malfunctioning gene. This
is a breakthrough in the quest to understand more about mental illness, as it
provides insight into how the disease can develop.
Leading psychiatrist, Radha Shankar, is opening the conference with an
impassioned speech on the theme of the conference: Lighting the Path: Hope in
Action. "In India it is estimated that only about 10% of persons with major
mental illness receive modern medical treatment. This challenge is being met
in part through the development of a number of family support organizations
throughout the country." The theme of the need for social and family support
was enlarged upon by Professor Kim Mueser, author of the new book, The
Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia: Helping your Love one Get the Most out
of Life. "For those getting the best treatment," he said, "the possibility for
recovery is much greater than in the past."
Legal issues for the mentally ill are being addressed by prominent
Ontario Judge Edward Ormston and his team in a presentation based on the CBC
nationally televised series, This is Wonderland, which covered the plight of
the mentally ill in the criminal justice system. Judge Ormston, who created
the first of Canada's celebrated Mental Health Courts, acted as an advisor on
the television show, and his team discussed the real life cases behind the
fictional television series.
The international conference is an excellent opportunity to showcase
Toronto as a city which is progressive in its understanding and acceptance of
mental illness, but more specifically schizophrenia. As a city which attracts
so many people of different backgrounds, this conference exemplifies our
philosophy of inclusiveness and the right for all individuals and families to
seek the knowledge, compassion and understanding to cope with this illness.
For further information:
For further information: Trish Ruebottom, Executive Director, World
Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders, (416) 961-2855 and (416)