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Living with Schizophrenia: A Misunderstood and Stigmatized Illness

Posted May 17 2011 9:38pm

“Living with Schizophrenia: A Call for Hope and Recovery” is a half-hour documentary film that tells the story of three people who are living meaningful lives with schizophrenia, a chronic and potentially disabling brain disorder.   Visit  http://www.hopeandrecoveryfilm.com/videos/trailer.swfto view the documentary trailer.   The film sets out to increase understanding and to reduce the fear and stigma often associated with this mental health condition. About one percent of the US adult population, or 2 million, and approximately 24 million people globally are living with schizophrenia.

 

“‘Living with Schizophrenia’ highlights the stories that don’t make the headlines – the stories of hope and promise,” said Emily Abt, award-winning filmmaker and director of the film. “My grandmother struggled with schizophrenia, and making this documentary gave me new insights about what it is like to have this illness and overcome the obstacles in life that it presents.”

 

In the film, viewers journey with three individuals with schizophrenia to experience their daily struggles, personal insights, paths to the mental health recovery process, and the impact their illness has had on those who love them. “ Living with Schizophrenia ” delves into the lives of Ashley, who after finding effective treatment for her schizophrenia, returned to school and created a blog to share her story with others; Joshua, who was in and out of psychiatric hospitals for six years and now, following his path of mental health recovery, is dedicated to helping others living with the illness; and Rebecca, who spent a decade blaming herself for her diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and is now actively involved in her treatment process.

 

Ashley, Joshua, and Rebecca are joined in the film by their families and experts in schizophrenia, including community-based psychiatrist Rebecca Roma, MD, medical director of the Community Treatment Team at Mercy Behavioral Health in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Xavier Amador, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder and director of the LEAP Institute; and, Dave, president of the Georgia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Throughout the film, they share their perspectives and reinforce the message of hope and self-acceptance for people living with schizophrenia.

 

Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder whose cause eludes experts to this day.   Researchers have identified various risk factors for schizophrenia, including heredity, brain damage, and environmental factors such as social stress, isolation, and drug use.   The disease typically manifests as abnormal psychological functioning and disturbed behavior. There are currently no physical or lab tests that diagnose the disease; therefore, schizophrenia is diagnosed by the presence of symptom types.

 

“By sharing the powerful stories of Ashley, Joshua, and Rebecca, we can work to reduce the fear and reduce the stigma, just like we’ve done with so many other issues over the years,” said Dr. Roma. “Deep down inside, we’re all people with different struggles and I learn from my patients every day about the power of perseverance and hope.”

 

“Living with Schizophrenia” was funded and produced by Janssen, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.   The people featured in the film present their own stories and ideas and were not compensated by Janssen to appear in the film. Janssen products are not named or promoted in the film.

 

For more information about “Living with Schizophrenia” visit http://www.hopeandrecoveryfilm.com.

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