Schizophrenia Awareness Week was from 22 until 28 May 2022. Schizophrenia Awareness Week is held every May to coincide with World Schizophrenia Day on 24 May. The 2022 theme is Connecting with Hope; something we can all relate to.
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage Canberrans to increase their awareness and become more informed about schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. With one in five people in the last year experiencing a mental illness, it is crucial for our community to understand different mental health issues and more importantly, where to find the right level of support.
Within the Canberra region, we are supporting people with mental illness including people with a schizophrenia illness through health care such as GPs and private Psychiatrists, public mental health services and the mental health community sector. Services are provided for both acute needs and for longer term recovery.
People with schizophrenia can recover and lead fulfilling lives. Support is available and I am very pleased that the ACT Government delivers and funds a wide range of these supports. These include the: public community mental health centres at Belconnen, Gungahlin, City, Woden and Tuggeranong; acute inpatient mental health units at Calvary and Canberra Hospital; the rehabilitation inpatient unit at the University of Canberra Rehabilitation Hospital; Step Up Step Down residential supports; and community psychosocial supports delivered by non-government organisations.
One of the newer service I would like to highlight is the ACT Safe Haven. Safe Haven offers a warm, non-clinical, safe space where people can freely go if they are experiencing emotional distress, mental health concerns, isolation and loneliness and are seeking social connection and support. Safe Haven is located in Belconnen and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 4:30-9 pm. Canberrans are encouraged to know about the services offered here in the ACT, to seek support early or encourage and assist others to seek support.
The emphasis for this year’s campaign is connecting with real-life stories that talk about what it’s like to live with schizophrenia or psychosis. The campaign places importance on finding and curating connections to form a strong team to support people with psychosis. The key messages for this year’s campaign are:
• Connecting with HOPE;
• Busting myths: recognising the need to address fear and enhance awareness of schizophrenia; and that
• Recovery is possible; and
• Being inclusive of family and carers is important.
The many misconceptions about schizophrenia add to the burden experienced by those who have lived experience as well as their families and carers. Educating the community about mental illness is our most effective tool in reducing the stigma.
I believe it is also important to dispel the myths and allow every individual to reach their full potential in the home, the community and the workplace.
This year’s theme connects strongly to the ACT vision for mental health of “a kind, connected and informed community working together to promote and protect the mental health and wellbeing of all”.
As the ACT Minister for Mental Health, I am committed to supporting people with schizophrenia through raising awareness to reduce stigma and build community understanding, early intervention and the ongoing development our mental health service system.
Our whole community benefits when all Canberrans can contribute and participate to their full potential.
I encourage the ACT community to become better informed about schizophrenia and other mental illnesses and I thank those of you who continue to raise awareness and share their knowledge about schizophrenia. It is through initiatives like Schizophrenia Awareness Week that our community can contribute significantly to broadening the public’s knowledge and understanding of schizophrenia and help everyone Connect with Hope.