Assistance for everyday life
Come to face with stigmatisation and discrimination
One of the largest challenges as a part of the illness is the relationship to the reactions of other people. Especially the idea of a "schizophrenic" still continues to be associated with many stigmatising prejudices (see "10 things which you should know about psychoses"), which leads to a vicious circle of alienation and discrimination. As a consequence, patients are frequently labelled psychologically as being "maniacs" or "lunatics". When house-hunting or looking for a job, they are frequently at a disadvantage. When their social environment becomes aware of the illness, they frequently become more distanced. As a consequence, persons with psychoses are frequently isolated socially or have difficulties finding work. From the stigmatisation, discrimination therefore arises within the society, which expresses itself in a variety of ways: Starting with an aversion to employing persons with a schizophrenic illness and extending as far to supporting their social exclusion.
What you, as a person who is affected, can do
Stigmatisation does not only occur in the heads of others, but also in one's own head. Consequently, it can be difficult to struggle against it. Nevertheless, there is something that you can do:
- Inform yourself as extensively as possible about schizophrenia; you will then be able to correct opinions, which are based on ignorance, with well-founded facts.
- Attempt to inform the people in your social environment about schizophrenia.
- If you felt hurt by an ignorant opinion presented in a TV programme or a newspaper article, write to them and complain.
- Fight discrimination. If you meet with prejudices on the job, turn to your union. If you are discriminated against as a customer, complain to the management.
What you can do, as a person who is not affected
- Learn more about psychological illnesses: The more one knows about psychological illnesses, the better one can recognise negative stereotypes and prejudices.
- Listen to he people who have personally had experiences with psychological illnesses: These persons can describe what they consider to be stigmatisation and how stigmatisation functions in their life. You can explain best how you want to be seen and how you want others to react to your illness.
- Respond to stigmatisation in the media. Even write to the television stations, press or radio, for instance, if you consider a programme to be stigmatising. Express your concerns and, if necessary, point out the serious sources of information concerned with psychological illnesses.
- If somebody who you know uses "schizophrenics" in a negative, distorting manner, then point this out to them. The same should naturally be done if clearly negative and discriminating remarks are expressed. A small reference to the fact that nobody is immune against psychological illnesses, sometimes works miracles in such a situation.
- Point out the merits of individuals, who were first of all artists, authors, etc. and whose psychological illnesses were merely a part of their life. A diminution of one's life's work does not usually occur because of a psychological illness (fortunately).