An inquiry into why outcomes for people with schizophrenia remain so poor has been launched today, 100 years after the illness was identified.
Charity Rethink Mental Illness has launched an independent commission on schizophrenia to examine why people with the condition are not receiving the support they need and die, on average, 20 years younger than other people.
“It is 100 years since the term ‘schizophrenia’ was coined and hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are affected by it,” said Rethink chief executive Paul Jenkins. “Yet too often they are forgotten and end up with a low quality of life, even dying 20 years younger on average.”
The commission, chaired by Robin Murray, professor of psychiatric research at King’s College, London, is to investigate the current state of healthcare in England and quality of life for individuals with schizophrenia and their families. It will also make an assessment of the economic and social impact of the schizophrenia and review public attitudes.
The group will also identify the priority actions that will “reduce the burden” of schizophrenia for society and improve outcomes for individuals and their families.
The commission will hear evidence from medical professionals, economists, policy-makers and people with schizophrenia and their families.
Key findings and recommendations will be published in July 2012. Other members of the commission include former Calderdale Council director of adults’ services Jonathan Phillips, service users and campaigners Terry Bowyer and Yvonne Stewart-Williams, and Royal College of General Practitioners chair Dr Clare Gerada.
“With the right treatment, people with schizophrenia can live productive, happy lives,” Jenkins said. “This commission will ask the NHS, local authorities and economists what needs to change so that people affected and their families can live life to the full.”
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