Sunday, May 31, 2009

"An enormous gift": Psychosis booklet emphasizes family care

A May 12th news release from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH):
When someone experiences a psychotic episode for the first time, one of the most valuable sources of support is their family. As author and CAMH Family Worker Sabrina Baker [pictured, person on right] explains, the complexities and challenges they face can often lead to frustration, a sense of isolation, and even raise concerns about their own mental health.

A new CAMH-published book will help to inform and support families facing these situations, and it’s already garnering positive responses. Written by Sabrina, who works in the First Episode department, and Lisa Martens (formerly of CAMH), Promoting Recovery from First-Episode Psychosis was launched last week. The book is also available in electronic form - click here to download. (PDF)
To read the entire article, please click here.

Also see:

Family-Centered Care Initiative

Photo courtesy of CAMH.

Opinions ...

Two letters to the editor published in yesterday's edition of The Chronicle Herald:

More debate needed

In response to the May 22 story "Grit health plans welcomed," the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia supports the creation of a commission that will report directly to the health minister on mental health issues.

Most people don’t want to talk about mental illness. One in five Nova Scotians is living with a mental illness in any given year and yet mental health makes up only 3.5 per cent of the provincial health budget. In fact, less than half of Nova Scotians with mental illness receive adequate treatment.

Loved ones are often astounded by the surroundings in which their family members with mental illness are expected to heal and recover, as they would be considered unsuitable for individuals who are recovering from other illnesses.

We welcome more dialogue and debate on mental health from all the political parties leading up to June 9 and post-election. Nova Scotians with mental illness have been ignored for far too long.

Robert C. Hunt, CA, CIRP, Chair, Mental Health Foundation of N.S.

False message

Re: the May 21 story "Pensioners worry about safety in buildings."

Safety within public housing and the surrounding community is a concern shared by many in HRM. However, this article directly implies that individuals with mental illness are responsible for compromising the safety of others.

I believe this sends a false message to the public. People with mental illness actively contribute to their communities in countless ways and are generally more likely to become victims of unsafe environments, unlike this article suggests.

A multitude of social and individual conditions affect the safety and well-being of all residents, not only seniors. Poverty and other social issues greatly affect all of us.

As leaseholders who have abided by the same regulations as all other tenants of public housing, people with mental illness have the right to safe and affordable housing options. Marginalizing people with mental illness who are rightful tenants — as opposed to engaging them in developing creative solutions to these problems — is not going to meet the goal of a safer community.

Elaine Salisbury, Halifax

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Poverty Discussion Points for the Provincial Election

An article posted on May 28th by the Health Promotion Clearing House:

Capital Health, Public Health Poverty Working Group

Discussion Points for the Provincial Election

Spring 2009

The Poverty working group is a multidiscipline group, with representation from all teams in Public Health. In 2008 one of our new strategic mandates launched was to address health inequities. In addition our organization works to promote the population health approach especially by addressing the #1 determinant of health – Income and Social Status (also known as Poverty). Although we work on poverty in the population we have a particular concern for poverty affecting children and youth.

The following points are meant as a guide you can use in talking to candidates in the current provincial election campaign. Please use these in-person conversations, phone calls, e-mails or if you attend candidate debates.

Collaboration: The impact and solution to poverty goes beyond the mandate of one department. Just as the health promotion and protection department must be involved so too must transportation, community services, justice, and education, to name but a few departments.

Will you and your party commit to creating a Poverty Reduction Act with tenants of the Act to include collaboration having all government departments work together on the comprehensive and legislated NS Poverty Reduction Strategy similar to those in Quebec and Ontario?

Affordable Housing:
Housing is one of our basic and most costly necessities. There are many issues around affordable housing (dwellings costing less than 30% of before-tax household income) for low income Canadians, including those on social assistance. There is a great need for a Provincial Housing Strategy within the NS Poverty Reduction Strategy, but we need a provincial government that is committed to effective implementation and delivery of existing funding for housing.

What would your party do to effectively implement a housing strategy in Nova Scotia?

Will you and your party commit to the return of the Department of Housing to commit to a Provincial Housing Strategy?

Transportation: Transportation increases a person’s access to health, education, employment, and social opportunities.

If elected what priority would your government place on affordable, accessible transportation that will serve the needs of low-income Nova Scotians?

Support for Children and Families: Children living in poverty face limited opportunities and sometimes go hungry, yet children are poor because their parents are poor. We need to lift the incomes of parents living in poverty and provide better supports for children.

What position does your platform take on the following concerns that will have an impact on child and family poverty?
  • Raising the minimum wage to a living wage
  • Raising the NS Child Tax Benefit
  • Eliminating the wage claw back for people on welfare to allow them to reach a living wage
  • Universally accessible childcare and early learning system through daycares and Family Resource Centres

Also see:

Nova Scotia's Poverty Reduction Strategy

Report Card on Homelessness in Halifax Questionnaire

A salience dysregulation syndrome

The abstract of an editorial published in the February 2009 edition of The British Journal of Psychiatry:

By Jim van Os, MRCPsych (pictured}

Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology
Maastricht University Medical Centre
PO BOX 616 (DRT10) Maastricht
The Netherlands

Revisions of DSM and ICD are forthcoming. Should the old categories of psychotic disorder, in particular the construct of schizophrenia, be retained or is a new system of representation of psychosis in order? It is argued that both scientific and societal developments point to a system of classification combining categorical and dimensional representations of psychosis in DSM and ICD. Furthermore, it is proposed to introduce, analogous to the functional descriptive term `metabolic syndrome', the diagnosis of salience dysregulation syndrome. Within this syndrome, three sub-categories may be identified, based on scientific evidence of relatively valid and specific contrasts: with affective expression; with developmental expression; and not otherwise specified.

Posting of this abstract is for the purposes of research into schizophrenia and psychosis.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Positive barrier

A letter to the editor published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
Thanks to Steve Snider, CEO of the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission, for finally moving to install a barrier that will substantially increase the difficulty of completing suicide from the Macdonald Bridge. Since the impetus to complete suicide often waxes and wanes, actions that can delay the final act leading to suicide may deter the suicidal individual from acting and may increase the probability of choosing life instead. Indeed, many people who have decided not to complete suicide or who have survived a suicide attempt go on to live positive and productive lives.

Restriction of lethal means is one of the few public health measures that have been associated with decreasing suicide rates. Although method substitution is technically possible, research has not been able to demonstrate a clear pattern of this occurring when a bridge barrier is erected. So will putting up a barrier on the Macdonald Bridge save lives? Probably. Will it send a clear message of concern for this important health issue? Totally! Is it about time this happened? Absolutely!

As important as Mr. Snider’s role was in moving this agenda forward, the true heroes are Carol Cashen and a group of concerned citizens and mental health advocates. Ms. Cashen is a public health nurse and the mother of a young man who took his life by jumping from the Macdonald Bridge. With other members of the community, with the input of the Canadian Mental Health Association and with responsible reporting, Carol and the citizens of HRM were able to accomplish what the professionals and government were not able to do. They are the people we all have to be thankful to.

Dr. Stan Kutcher
Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health
Dalhousie and IWK Health Centre

Also see:

Macdonald bridge to get safety barrier

Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission to Install Barrier on the MacDonald Bridge (Teen Mental Health Blog)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

N.S. NDP plans to reduce rates of disease

An article published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia's NDP has developed a plan it hopes would help reduce the rates of disease in the province, including cancer and diabetes.

Party leader Darrell Dexter says Nova Scotians have some of the worst chronic disease rates in the country, but he believes that trend can be stopped.

If elected on June 9th, Dexter says an NDP government would create a task force that would identify ways to help lower the rates of acute and chronic illnesses in the province.

The NDP is also promising to establish a council made up of representatives from health advocacy groups and the government that would award so-called healthy living grants.

Dexter says doctors in the province would also be encouraged to use a preventative care checklist developed by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Dexter says the NDP would work closely with doctors in the province and health organizations in implementing its plan, which would also tackle heart and lung disease as well as mental illness.
Bold emphasis is mine.

Posting of this article does not imply endorsement of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party by the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia.

Got a question?

An article published in the May 22nd edition of The Chronicle Herald:
Ever wanted to put your question to the party leaders in an election debate?

Well, this is your chance to have one of your questions asked at the CBC-Chronicle Herald leaders debate on June 2.

Call, write, email, YouTube, Twitter or leave it on our Facebook page and possibly win a ticket to the event in Baddeck.

To call in your question, dial 902-426-2811, ext. 2009. Or email it to, or send it via Twitter and make sure to hashtag it #nsdebate #nselection. You can even record your question on video at EastLink locations May 26 to 28 between noon and 2 p.m.
For further information, please click here.

Novel Antipsychotic Promising for Schizophrenia

An article posted May 22nd on MedPage Today:
By Crystal Phend, Staff Writer

Reviewed by Dori F. Zaleznik, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

SAN FRANCISCO, May 22 -- The experimental psychotropic agent lurasidone [molecular structure shown] appeared effective in acute schizophrenia, according to the first phase III data on the drug.

The intermediate 80-mg dose of the novel compound significantly improved total scores on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) by about eight points more than placebo over six weeks of treatment in the randomized controlled trial.

However, the 40- and 120-mg per day doses did not appear better than placebo for either the primary or secondary endpoints in the trial, Antony Loebel, Ph.D., of Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma America in Fort Lee, N.J., and colleagues found.

All doses appeared to be well tolerated with little impact on weight and lipids, they reported here at the American Psychiatric Association meeting.

Lurasidone is part of the pipeline of psychotropics that have been called the "me-too" medications. It has high affinity for dopamine (D2) and serotonin 5-HT2A receptors.

But Dr. Loebel highlighted its uniqueness among psychotropics in affinity for serotonin receptors implicated in the enhancement of cognition, mood, and negative symptoms (5-HT7, 5-HT1A and alpha-2c).

He also noted that the compound's low attraction to noradrenaline alpha-1, histamine H1, and cholinergic M1 receptors may minimize weight gain and other problems seen with psychotropics currently on the market.

Action Points
  • Explain to interested patients that lurasidone is not FDA approved for any indication.
  • Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented as a poster at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
To read the entire article, please click here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Grit health plans welcomed

An article published in today's edition of the Chronicle Herald:
Agencies agree with party’s proposals on mental health issues, tobacco taxes

By John McPhee, Health Reporter

Health organizations applauded some of the proposals in the Liberal party’s election platform released Thursday.

The Liberals say they’ll create a commission that will report directly to the health minister on mental health issues. The commission would include academics, professionals, clients and family members.

That would be a good thing, said Carol Tooton [pictured], executive director of the Nova Scotia division of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

While there is a provincial mental health steering committee, it hasn’t met for a year, she said Thursday.

Ms. Tooton also agrees with the Liberals that the province falls short on mental health services.

"Absolutely," she said.

"The funding of mental health is less than four per cent of the total budget. And we have 20 per cent of our population who may be requiring those services."
To read the entire article, please click here.

Posting of this article does not imply endorsement of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party by the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia.

Giving Manitoba's poor a better place to live

An article published in today's edition of the Winnipeg Free Press:
The first concrete initiatives from the province's new anti-poverty strategy revolve around housing.

Up to 2,000 people are to benefit from 285 more "mental-health housing units." They will include options ranging from independent living with supports to 24-hour supportive-housing units. Included are 40 units in downtown Winnipeg, with supports, for people who are chronically homeless.

Six hundred low-income Manitobans with mental challenges and an unstable housing situation will receive a rent subsidy of up to $200 a month to access a broader range of private housing. Support workers will be available to help them.

Manitoba Housing's Community Wellness Initiative will be expanded to 14 sites from the current five. Some 760 tenants will receive enhanced services with the addition of 11 housing and mental-health support workers.

The province is adding 100 emergency homeless shelter beds and introducing new emergency homeless shelter standards. The guidelines are to ensure quality, consistent and safe services are provided at Manitoba's five emergency shelters.

A new cold-weather shelter protocol to serve an additional 80 people.

The province will hold a homeless prevention summit this fall.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Do Consumers Use the Word "Recovery"?

A letter to the editor published in the April 2008 edition of Psychiatric Services:

By Myra Piat, Ph.D., Judith Sabetti, M.S.W., and Audrey Couture, M.Sc.

Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
To the Editor: Recovery has been celebrated as the guiding vision for mental health service delivery since Anthony declared the 1990s the "decade of recovery" (1). Both the President's New Freedom Commission (2) and the Kirby Commission in Canada (3) have made recovery the basis for transforming mental health services throughout North America, which is the result of decades of outcome research, consumer activism, and advances in psychiatric rehabilitation (4,5). Yet a recent Canadian study found that most recovering consumers were not using the word "recovery" to describe their experience and were not hearing about recovery from service providers.

In the context of a multisite, qualitative study of stakeholder perspectives on recovery conducted in 2006–2007, we asked 59 consumers with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or major depression about their use of the word "recovery" and their sources of information on recovery. All had been receiving formal mental health services for at least six months before the study, most as long-term service recipients.

  1. Anthony WA: Recovery from mental illness: the guiding vision of the mental health service system in the 1990s. Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal 16:11–23, 1993
  2. Hogan MF: The President's New Freedom Commission: Recommendations to Transform Mental Health Care in America. Psychiatric Services 54:1467–1474, 2003 [Free Full Text]
  3. Kirby MJL, Keon WJ: Out of the Shadows at Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada. Ottawa, Sénat du Canada, 2006
  4. Roberts G, Wolfson P: The rediscovery of recovery: open to all. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment 10:37–49, 2004 [Abstract/Free Full Text]
  5. Sowers W: Transforming systems of care: the American Association of Community Psychiatrists Guidelines for Recovery Oriented Services. Community Mental Health Journal 41:757–774, 2005 [CrossRef][Medline]
To read the entire letter to the editor, please click here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Stamping out stigma

A letter to the editor published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
Last weekend, people of all ages gathered in Halifax for the Road to Recovery Walk-a-thon held by the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia. We walked through Halifax together to support families, friends and all individuals who have been touched by mental illness. Our aim was to raise funds, but more importantly to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. I was disappointed that we received no coverage from The Chronicle Herald.

Many people and families touched by mental illness suffer stigma created by society and the public. It’s up to us to work together to learn more about schizophrenia and what we can do as a community to aid in eliminating the stigma surrounding it. Recovery is possible, but we need everyone’s help to make it a reality.

Laura Dunnington, Halifax

Friday, May 15, 2009

Early and network-oriented care may help adolescents at risk of developing psychosis

A press release posted May 14th by EurekAlert:
Family and network oriented, stress-reducing care improves level of overall functioning and mental health in adolescents at risk of developing psychosis, suggests a recent Finnish study.

Jorvi Early psychosis Recognition and Intervention (JERI) project at Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUCH), Jorvi Hospital, Finland, is a project with an early intervention team for adolescents at risk of developing first-episode psychosis. As developing psychosis has been suggested to be a result of a combination of acute life stressors and trait-like vulnerability to psychosis, the intervention is based on the idea of multiprofessional, need-adapted, community-, family- and network-oriented, stress-reducing, overall functioning supporting and low-threshold care.

The JERI team meets with adolescents at ages 12-20 in their natural surroundings, e.g. at school or at home, together with their parents and community co-worker, who has originally contacted the JERI team because of unclear mental health problems. The aim of the team is to recognize potential risk cases and reduce the stress level by family and network intervention.

A follow-up study was performed to test how presented intervention will help adolescents at risk. Data was collected between January 2007 and May 2008. During the intervention, mean scores rose statistically significantly on overall functioning and scores on quality of life, depression, anxiety and pre-psychotic symptoms decreased statistically significantly, showing an improvement in overall functioning and mental health in adolescents at risk of developing first-episode psychosis. Adolescents did not receive other therapy or any antipsychotic medication.

"JERI- intervention seems to improve level of overall functioning and support mental health in adolescents at risk of developing first-episode psychosis, even though further study with larger number of subjects, with a proper control group and with a longer follow-up time is needed", says Dr. Niklas Granö, the leader of the research.


Results are published in the journal Early Intervention in Psychiatry.

For further information, please contact:

Niklas Granö, PhD.
Tel. + 358 9 471 83007


Niklas Granö, Marjaana Karjalainen, Jukka Anto, Arja Itkonen,Virve Edlund and Mikko Roine: An intervention to improve level of overall functioning and mental condition of adolescents at high risk of developing first-episode psychosis in Finland. Early Intervention in Psychiatry (2009; 3: 94-98)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Inspiring week

A letter to the editor published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
National Mental Health Week just ended and my spirits have not only been boosted, they have catapulted. What a week! There was so much going on that I could not attend everything.

There were three highlights for me: the Inspiring Lives Awards and Dinner ( in honour of those heroes living with mental illness who have shared their stories of struggle and humbly received accolades for living well; the official launch of, a new website offering good information on mental health; and the Nova Scotia Schizophrenia Society’s incredibly successful walkathon (

While Nova Scotia’s mental health care system is still an ailing soul, there is no doubt in my mind that the grassroots organizations and some very special people both within and without the mental health care system know what is needed. There is hope in the air, finally.

On a very personal note, some of the movement forward has touched my own family profoundly. I am so grateful and, yes, recovery is definitely possible. There is so much worth doing.

Sheila Morrison, Halifax

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When Will We Get Over Stereotypes

Posted today on Overcoming Schizophrenia:
In the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) "Schizophrenia: Public Attitudes, Personal Needs" report stated the following statistics:
  • 79% of people would want a friend to tell them if they were diagnosed with schizophrenia, but only 46% say they would tell friends if they themselves were diagnosed.
  • 27% would be embarrassed to tell others if one of their own family members was diagnosed.
  • 80% expressed discomfort with the prospect of dating someone with schizophrenia who has not received treatment, compared to only 49% if the person has (received treatment).
Why are people ashamed to admit that schizophrenia affects their lives? Many people have various misconceptions about schizophrenia - people with schizophrenia are violent, lazy, or homeless. While I do not fit into the stereotype of a person with schizophrenia as well as many of my readers with schizophrenia, people continue to believe these myths.

Again, 79 percent of people would want a friend to tell them they have the illness while almost half of study participants would not admit to that diagnoses if they had schizophrenia. Why is that - that is a double standard. Why do people expect so much from others, but want leniency when it comes to their status?

Going on the second prong, why is it that a relative would be embarrassed by their family member's diagnosis of schizophrenia? Nobody is perfect, many people have medical ailments such as diabetes and cancer or undesirable personality traits such as being conceited, a pathological liar, or a gossiper - those traits should be embarrassing, but not schizophrenia. Nobody can decide who gets mental illness.

About half of survey participates would not date someone with schizophrenia even if they had treatment. This statistic really saddens me. Again, nobody is perfect and they certainly cannot determine whether they have a mental illness or not.

What do you think of these statistics? Do the statistics surprise - why or why not?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit the following organization's websites: 1) the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), or 2) Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Road to Recovery Walkathon - May 9th, 2009

Please click on any photograph to enlarge it.

All of the above photographs taken by AnitaLouise Martinez.

All of the above photographs taken by Kim Clark.

All of the above pre-event photographs taken by Stephen Ayer.

A big thank you to ...


Prize and Gift Donors:

Please click on the above image to magnify it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Every citizen must be treated fairly

A letter to the editor published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By Carol Tooton and Stephen W. Ayer

The Canadian Mental Health Association-Nova Scotia Division (CMHA-NS) and the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (SSNS) need to be assured that the systems administered by our government will guarantee that every citizen of Nova Scotia, regardless of socioeconomic or health status, is treated in a fair and just manner. This principle is even more critical when applied to individuals who may not have the knowledge of how systems work, or who do not have the financial resources to engage the appropriate supports (e.g., lawyers). For people in these situations, well-functioning systems are particularly important.

The Nova Scotia Department of Justice is currently experiencing a breakdown in efficiency in relation to the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside. Last week, the CBC reported on the case of an individual who remained incarcerated for two months beyond his release date, a case which was confirmed by the Nova Scotia Department of Justice. This can be viewed as just one more example of a justice system that appears to be operating in a very dysfunctional manner, particularly when the solution offered was: "… should this gentleman come into our custody again, then we would ask the courts to take into consideration that he had served extra time."

As reported by the CBC, the individual detained beyond his court-imposed sentence had previously been diagnosed with a mental illness; this causes both of our organizations significant concern. In fact, with one in five Nova Scotians at risk of experiencing a mental illness at some point in their lifetime, this is an issue that every citizen of Nova Scotia should be concerned about. Without knowing all of the details in this situation, one cannot help but question why we are continuing to hear of more and more cases of people who have a mental illness being inappropriately treated by the justice system, while, in the meantime, the opening of the new Mental Health Court in Dartmouth has been delayed from April 1 to Nov. 1, 2009.

We are of the opinion that finding appropriate solutions for rehabilitating mentally ill individuals who come into conflict with the law doesn’t rest solely with frontline workers who are administering programs, but also with policy decision-makers and ultimately with the ministers of Justice and Health. The issues of stigma and discrimination in relationship to mental illness remain prevalent and appear to be impacting decision-making at all levels.

All Nova Scotians deserve to be treated equally according to existing legislation. It’s time that government, particularly those responsible for the development of policy and operational procedures, ensure that every citizen of Nova Scotia receives the same fair and just consideration under the law.

An inquiry into the November 2007 death of Howard Hyde is currently underway. This inquiry will examine the facts, in detail, of the death of an individual at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility who had a mental illness, in this case paranoid schizophrenia. As organizations with standing at the inquiry, the CMHA-NS and the SSNS will be doing our utmost to make sure that all of the facts are disclosed, and that appropriate and meaningful recommendations for changes to the justice and mental health systems in this province are made.

Carol Tooton is executive director, Canadian Mental Health Association-Nova Scotia Division. Stephen W. Ayer is executive director, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Canada-Wide Survey Addresses Ways to Improve Quality of Life for Canadians Living with Mental Illness…

A press release from the Schizophrenia Society of Canada:
(Winnipeg, May 4, 2009) – Mental illness can be a devastating illness for anyone; however, it is especially difficult for young adults as it often disrupts their education, career plans and the raising of a young family. The symptoms of psychosis can confuse the mind, disorient perceptions, and unsettle important relationships with family and friends. But there is hope, schizophrenia and psychosis are treatable and recovery of quality of life is possible when people are able to find the right path to open up options for treatment, support and hope.

The Schizophrenia Society of Canada (SCC) recently commissioned a Canada-wide survey to learn how it can support people living with schizophrenia and their families to recover the best quality of life possible. Through a qualitative and quantitative survey and cross Canada focus groups, 1,086 people who have experienced mental illness shared what quality of life means to them. The results revealed that people living with schizophrenia and their families share similar hopes and frustrations regarding their quality of life.

This extensive survey, the largest of its kind in North America, highlighted certain key areas in which quality of life can be improved for people living with a mental illness:

Hope, optimism and a belief in recovery are critical to improving the quality of life for people affected by schizophrenia and related mental health disorders. While 96% of people living with mental illness believe recovery is possible, families sometimes lose optimism in the face of illness and don’t always believe that professionals think recovery is possible.

Friendships and family support are foundational. Symptoms of psychosis can unsettle important relationships with family and friends and contribute to isolation and loneliness. The support of friends and family is essential to recovery, employment and greatly improves quality of life.

Stigma and discrimination are real barriers to quality of life. Approximately 90% of adults with serious mental illness are unemployed. Studies show that many of them want to work and many can work. However, the lack of rehabilitation programs and the prevalence of discrimination prevent them from finding meaningful employment. Poverty is the unfortunate outcome. Canadians living with mental illness also felt that treatment and support services are severely under funded.

Medications and services can foster recovery. While medications are important, most people feel their family and professionals place far too much focus on medication adherence and not enough on what supports recovery and builds their quality of life.

Family/caregivers need to find balance too. Families often carry a heavy burden, as a result the mental, emotions and physical health of the entire family can suffer. Having professional support, learning more about schizophrenia and understanding what supports recovery would help families cope.

Overall, the Schizophrenia Society of Canada’s national survey recommends encouraging professionals to move beyond a narrow focus on managing symptoms to supporting and nurturing recovery from a body, mind and spirit perspective. Stigma and discrimination also need to be addressed through education, public policies and promotion of rights. As well, funding of safe, affordable, secure housing needs to become a priority as does meaningful employment.

Full study report and summary data are available on the SSC website at

Please contact:

Chris Summerville - Chief Executive Officer, Schizophrenia Society of Canada
Office: (204) 786-1616, Mobile: (204) 223-9158