Robert Downey Jr. And Jamie Foxx Deliver A Wake-Up Call In The Soloist About The Complexities of Living With Schizophrenia

    Schizophrenia Society of Ontario Applauds True Life Biopic Portrayal
    But Challenges Policymakers to Improve Access to Treatment

    TORONTO, April 24 /CNW/ - In a combustible world swirling with voices
from the past, a cocktail of memories and the hustle and bustle clatter of
life in downtown Los Angeles, Nathaniel Ayers, played by Oscar winner Jamie
Foxx is asked about his hopes and dreams. "That's easy," he says. "I just need
another two strings for my violin." Foxx's portrayal of former Julliard
student Ayers in the The Soloist, released today across North America, is
already garnering Oscar talk for Foxx and co-star Robert Downey Jr. It is also
raising much discussion about how society can best support those living with
mental illness such as schizophrenia.
    "The Soloist demonstrates how empathy and understanding can impact the
lives of those with schizophrenia and how this relationship can change the way
we understand, relate to and support individuals living with this illness,"
says Mary Alberti, Executive Director, Schizophrenia Society of Ontario. While
it needs to be understood that schizophrenia is not synonymous with a life on
the street, The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario applauds the movie's fair and
accurate portrayal of the complexities of living with schizophrenia.
    The movie is based on the life of a gifted musician named Nathaniel Ayers
whose mental illness drives him from the halls of The Juilliard School in New
York to the streets of Los Angeles. There, he develops a friendship with Los
Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, who struggles to find a way to help
Ayers. With an enduring passion for music Ayers is able to find some level of
comfort in the friendship, support and access to music -- a kind of music
therapy -- that Lopez gives him. This friendship is complex and sometimes
painful but it provides both Ayers and Lopez with a unique bond that lasts to
this day.
    The Soloist highlights how the definition of treatment reaches far beyond
medication and needs to be re-imagined in a much broader sense to include
social support, community-based services, family education as well as
social/recreational opportunities. "It is essential that access to this broad
range of services and support is ensured. Greater empathy and public support
for this population can go a long way in changing the system for the better."
says Alberti.
    The Access to Treatment Initiative is a three-year priority of the
Schizophrenia Society of Ontario that aims to improve access to treatment for
those suffering from schizophrenia and their families. Because people with
schizophrenia require a range of services and supports to help in their
recovery, "treatment" has been defined broadly to include three core elements:
psychiatric treatment, community services and social support such as housing,
employment and income support. The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario believes
that increased government funding and improved coordination of services can
remove the many barriers that those with a mental illness and their families
face in accessing treatment. Canadians are encouraged to visit to learn more about treatment and support options that
can help them or someone they know get vital professional help.

    About the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario

    Founded in 1979, the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO) is a
non-profit organization offering a reason to hope and the means to cope for
families and individuals affected by schizophrenia. SSO provides support,
education and advocacy on behalf of people and families affected by
schizophrenia through regional offices and a network of Chapters in
communities across the province. SSO is the largest organization representing
people affected by schizophrenia in Ontario. Further information is available

    EDITORS NOTE: For more information on the Access to Treatment Initiative
    or to schedule an interview with Mary Alberti please contact Jon Packer
    416.504.3977 x24 or

For further information:

For further information: Jon Packer, (416) 504-3977 x24,

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