We live in a wonderful world filled with unique individuals that we can learn from and commingle with to our heart’s content. One percent of our planet’s population lives with schizophrenia, a splintered, chaotic, and debilitating mental disorder that is often as bewildering as it is lonely. Many lives are affected by this illness – families, friends, advocates, and caregivers. Yet even with a history of stigma and discrimination to address, there is hope for integration, both individually and socially, when we work together.
In 1992, the World Federation for Mental Health – a global organization with members in more than 150 countries – established World Mental Health Day, celebrated annually on October 10th. The theme for 2014 is “Living With Schizophrenia”, focusing on research, challenges, and changes in public perception of this most misunderstood mental illness.
Among this year’s topics are the prioritization of treatment services, the relationship between physical and mental health, and the need for open discussion of mental disorders. I encourage you to promote mental health awareness in your community at every opportunity. I invite you to start by sharing your story with others. Putting a face on the diagnosis makes the heart and soul easier to see.
As a person living with schizophrenia, I am very excited about this year’s World Mental Health Day. Knowing that conversations will take place all around this fantastic planet gives me hope for a future where the gift of reality is not taken for granted, but granted a wider audience.