Mental Health Awareness Week Focuses on ‘Living with Schizophrenia’

Bermuda Hospitals Board today launches Mental Health Awareness Week, with the theme of ‘Living with Schizophrenia’.

Global research indicates that about 0.7% to 1% of any population suffers from this condition, which translates to 450 to 600 people in Bermuda. Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder. When active, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking and concentration and lack of motivation. It is a potentially debilitating condition if it is not treated. The World Health Organisation states it is a leading cause of disability globally.

Minister of Health, the Hon. Jeanne Atherden JP MP, officially launched the week at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, and said: “More than any other mental illness, schizophrenia is something many fear and, by association, people with this condition not only have their individual illness to manage, but have to struggle against the stigma of those around them,” she said. “It is the stigma and fear around schizophrenia and the disfunction that is a consequence of active symptoms that can often prevent an individual from accessing the care they need. It sounds a bleak picture, but a diagnosis of schizophrenia should not condemn an individual. There is hope. There are treatments that will help people can live quality, fulfilling lives.”

People with schizophrenia often require treatment at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI), which provides inpatient, outpatient and community outreach services for people with mental health issues.

MWI’s Chief of Psychiatry, Dr Chantelle Simmons noted: “While there is no current cure for schizophrenia, there are treatments are available that can help to decrease symptoms and improve the individual’s quality of life. For many individuals, long-term use of medications will be an important component of their treatment plan. However, other options may include vocational rehabilitation, individual therapy, peer support or community programs. There is help available in Bermuda for individuals who are living with schizophrenia. Individuals are encouraged to learn about their illness and the various treatment options so that they can be an active partner in their recovery. The recovery journey will be unique to each individual. There are private practitioners available in the community as well as a full support service here at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. We encourage you to call, walk in or schedule an appointment if you need assistance.”

A number of activities are planned for the week, including educational presentations for local physicians and BHB staff. Public events include:

MONDAY 6 OCTOBER
6pm, Book Club at the Bermuda National Library –
‘Psychiatric Tales’ by Darryl Cunningham (book is available in the Bermuda National Library) – it is a graphic novel, made up of a few short pieces that illustrate the author’s experience working on psychiatric and dementia wards.

TUESDAY 7 OCTOBER
7pm, Dinner and a Movie at BUEI
• Movie – The Soloist starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr, about a cello prodigy who suffers from schizophrenia
• Dinner – Harbourfront has a 10% discount for those attending a movie at BUEI

FRIDAY 10 OCTOBER
5-7pm, MindFrame/PhotoVoice Exhibition Launch: Hear My
Voice,See My Vision; Art and Photography Exhibit Opening at Bermuda Society of Arts, City Hall

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