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World Mental Health Day – Schizophrenia

October 10, 2014

I’m in the Yorkshire Evening Post for World Mental Health Day, under the headline ‘Why I’m backing the fight to end second class mental health care’. In the paper copy, I got most of page 8, with a photo of me cuddling a sheep taken by my lovely fiance.

The article is almost entirely cut and pasted from the Rethink press release, I never actually spoke to the journalist – but that’s good for me, because I got to approve the press release before it went out.

I’m somewhat frustrated though by the headline which does not mention schizophrenia. Same has been true for my previous media appearances. World Mental Health Day this year focuses on schizophrenia – there’s been lots of mentions of mental health and world mental health day in the news, but hardly anything specifically about schizophrenia, whereas last year when the focus was on anxiety then lots of the coverage talked specifically about anxiety, and about anxiety as part of normal human experience and something we all experience at times.

Psychosis is also a normal part of human experience. Many people have days when it feels like the whole world is out to get you, or you worry what people might be saying behind your back. Many people have beliefs which others strongly disagree with. Feeling like you are ‘being watched’. Hallucinations brought on by illness, bereavement, loss of sight. Depending on how you ask the question, maybe one in ten people will hear voices at some time in their lives. Even dreams can be a lot like psychosis.

Maybe the idea of having ‘schizophrenia’ in a headline without words like ‘murderer’ alongside it is just too radical for now. But I hope that maybe one day I’ll get a headline with ‘schizophrenia’ alongside ‘NHS scientist’, ‘marathon runner’, ‘engaged to very lovely Graham’, or ‘bookworm’.

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