Inquiry to investigate how schizophrenia 'label' is dehumanising and stigmatising
April 17, 2012
by Adam James
A new inquiry has been set up to investigate how being diagnosed with schizophrenia is de-humanising and stigmatising.
The inquiry, backed by 23 UK and international groups, has been set up as an alternative to the ‘Schizophrenia Commission’ which was launched last year.
The commission, set up by the Rethink Mental Illness charity and chaired by Professor Sir Robin Murray of London’s institute of psychiatry, has been criticised for failing to involve service users adequately.
Dr Suman Fernando, one of the four co-ordinators of the inquiry, also criticised the commission for having a “narrow medical framework”, and “accepting [psychiatric] diagnosis as valid ways of labelling people”.
An inquiry panel will, instead, examine the fundamental validity of schizophrenia and psychosis, examining to what extent schizophrenia and psychosis diagnoses are useful or not, and whether people with such diagnoses suffer discrimination.
It will also examine guidance on the treatment of people diagnosed with schizophrenia or psychosis as issued by The National Insitute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and professional organisations.
The panel will then make recommendations to the Department of Health, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and mental health charities.
Dr Fernando said: “We are aware of the increasing unease, even among psychiatrists, about the use of ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘psychosis’ to describe complex problems of living.
“More importantly, when these are used as labels attached to people, they can cause serious problems through increasing stigma and undermining the humanity of people given these labels.”
The inquiry panel will also examine why ethnic minority and black people are up to six times more likely to be given a schizophrenia diagnosis than the general population.
“Black people in Britain seem to suffer disproportionately in this way,” said Dr Fernando, a retired psychiatrist.
The inquiry’s panel members have been chosen on the basis that they must not be involved in research into the use of medication for the treatment of mental illness, must not be working in clinical psychiatry units; and must not be connected to the pharmaceutical industry
Service user Dominic Makuwachuma-Walker, and a member of the inquiry panel, said: “The time is right for finding out really what is going on when we label people with a psychiatric diagnosis such as ‘schizophrenia’.
“Does this label provide the help that some people may actually need or are we just propping up a multi-million dollar research and pharmaceutical industry?
“And how do we take on board the different cultural meanings that people give to experiences that are being diagnosed as ‘schizophrenia’?”
The inquiry will collect evidence via its website www.schizophreniainquiry.org.
Evidence-collection will run until June 2012, and the report will be published in October 2012.
do you think? Email your comments on the above
article to the editor using the form below. Selected comments will
© 2001-7 Psychminded Limited. All
about this article