Schizophrenia Commission report highlights what we can all do to improve care and understanding

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The research and campaigns relating to life outcomes for people with schizophrenia and psychosis are truly shocking.

It seems unbelievable that people with schizophrenia face a lifespan 15-20 years shorter than the general population and that only 7% are able to hold down a job.

Paul Jenkins from Rethink Mental Illness sums it up nicely:

We wouldn’t accept this state of affairs for cancer, why should people with schizophrenia have to endure it?

The Schizophrenia Commission is an independent panel of 14 experts who set out a year ago to review how outcomes for people with schizophrenia and psychosis can be improved. Their review included 3 main methods of evidence gathering:

  1. A literature review of published research
  2. A review of (primarily adult) mental health services, conducted following a number of site visits
  3. An online survey of 2,500 people

This work involved people who have lived with schizophrenia or psychosis, family members and carers, health and social care practitioners and researchers.

The report includes 42 detailed recommendations. The highlights recommended by the Commission are:

  • A radical overhaul of poor acute care units including better use of alternatives to admission like recovery houses to manage the transition between hospital and community services
  • Greater partnership and shared decision making with service users – valuing their experiences and making their preferences central to a recovery focused approach adopted by all services
  • Better prescribing and a right to a second opinion on medication involving, where appropriate, a specialist pharmacist
  • Extending general practitioner training in mental illness to improve support for those with psychosis managed by primary care
  • Extending the popular Early Intervention for Psychosis services (not cutting or diluting)
  • Increasing access to psychological therapies in line with NICE guidelines
  • Delivering effective physical health care to people with severe mental illness
  • A stronger focus on prevention including clear warnings about the risks of cannabis
  • Action to address inequalities and meet the needs of all disadvantaged groups
  • A better deal for long-term carers who should be treated as partners
  • Greater use of personal budgets, particularly for those with long-term care need
  • Psychiatrists must be extremely cautious in making a diagnosis of schizophrenia as it can generate stigma and unwarranted pessimism

Professor Sir Robin Murray, chair of the commission, said:

We have spent the last year listening to expert professionals and more importantly, the experiences of people who have schizophrenia and psychosis and their families. The message that comes through loud and clear is that people are being badly let down by the system in every area of their lives. People with psychosis need to be given the hope that it is perfectly possible to live a fulfilling life after diagnosis. We have no doubt that this is achievable.

The report has been published today, along with a number of supporting documents including an economic analysis from the LSE.  It has received good backing from the mainstream media and across the usual social media channels. The infographic shown below has been produced so that everyone can help increase understanding of this illness across their own networks. Let’s get the message out there!

Links

The abandoned illness: a report by the Schizophrenia Commission (PDF). Nov 2012.

Effective Interventions in Schizophrenia: the economic case. A report prepared for the Schizophrenia Commission (PDF). London School of Economics, Personal Social Services Research Unit, Nov 2012.

The Schizophrenia Commission website: http://www.schizophreniacommission.org.uk/

Schizophrenia Commission Infographic

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