What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition that causes a range of different psychological symptoms including:
- Hallucinations - hearing or seeing things that do not exist
- Delusions - unusual beliefs not based on reality which often contradict the evidence
- Muddled thoughts based on the hallucinations or delusions
- Changes in behaviour
Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a psychotic illness. This means sometimes a person may not be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality.
The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown. However, most experts believe the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is thought certain things make you more vulnerable to developing schizophrenia, and certain situations can trigger the condition.
Schizophrenia is one of the most common serious mental health conditions. About 1 in 100 people will experience schizophrenia in their lifetime, with many continuing to lead normal lives.
Schizophrenia is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. Men and women are equally affected. It is important that schizophrenia is diagnosed as early as possible, as the chances of recovery improve the earlier it is treated. Many people recover from schizophrenia, although they may have periods when symptoms return (relapses). Support and treatment can help reduce the impact of the condition on day-to-day life.
At Third Level Education:
Schizophrenia is one of the Mental Health Conditions covered under the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) system. Details of the DARE screening criteria for applicants with Schizophrenia are available HERE.
You don’t have to be eligible for DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) to get support in college. All students with a verified disability, regardless of whether they come through DARE or not, can avail of a variety of academic, personal and social supports while studying at third level. Further information on the support available in college can be found at accesscollege.ie
In the Workplace
Many organisations now make public claims to be an "equal opportunities employer". This suggests the existence of an equal opportunities policy (EOP), which is a policy statement adopted by the organisation declaring an intent not to discriminate and, further, to promote equality by taking steps to aid disadvantaged groups. Such employers are in effect promising to avoid discrimination on grounds of sex or marital status, and may also make such a commitment in relation to people with a disability and racial and ethnic minorities.
Impact on Career Choice
Skills for workplace success fall into two main categories: hard skills and and soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific and they vary, depending upon the industry or field in which you want to work. For example, a graphic artist must have the computer skills that go with that job.
Soft skills are the personal characteristics that go with a variety of jobs - they include social skills, problem solving, communication, time management, and organisation. For example, a person who prefers to work alone might find a research job particularly appealing. Explore Career Skills in more detail here.
People with Schizophrenia can, and do, work in all walks of life. Many manage to succeed at study and in high-level jobs. In addition to medication and ongoing therapy, developing personal strategies for keeping their schizophrenia at bay is key.
Vigilance about symptoms is vital - identifying 'triggers' to prevent a more full blown experience works for one person, who is as a coordinator at a nonprofit organisation. For example, if being with people in close quarters for too long can set off symptoms, build in some alone time during the work day, or when you travel with friends etc.
Other techniques cited include controlling sensory inputs. For some, this means keeping their living space simple (bare walls, no TV, only quiet music); for others, it means palying distracting music. “I’ll listen to loud music if I don’t want to hear things,” reports one person who is a certified nurse’s assistant. Exercise, a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and getting enough sleep - all are important coping strategies (Ref. NY Times Article 25/1/13).
Famous People with Schizophrenia
Nobel Laureate, John Nash of the movie “A Beautiful Mind.