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There are more reasons than ever to be optimistic about schizophrenia

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jack heath ceoAs medical treatments, early intervention programs and support services improve, we're gradually moving away from the dark days previously associated with schizophrenia.

After reading the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists' latest clinical practice guidelines for the management of schizophrenia, I felt buoyed by its findings and recommendations.

The guidelines summarise recent research and offer changes to standard treatment, including a stronger focus on early intervention, a more holistic treatment approach and consideration of groups with unique needs.

The guidelines cite data from the second Australian national survey of psychosis, which found over half of all people with schizophrenia who experience multiple episodes of psychosis, achieve a partial or good level of recovery.

Another study cited reveals that about one in seven of those who meet the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia, ultimately achieve nearly complete recovery.

This proves there are more reasons than ever before to be optimistic about schizophrenia.

I'm not trying to gloss over the challenges associated with schizophrenia which affects different people in different ways. As anyone with lived experience can attest schizophrenia comes with complex and persistent symptoms. Symptoms that can drastically change the lives of people diagnosed, as well as their family, friends and loved ones.

But what this clearly tells us is that living with schizophrenia is far from being a life sentence and that recovery, to a lesser or greater degree, is genuinely possible. During my four years at SANE Australia, I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with people who have received a diagnosis of schizophrenia and remain a source of enormous personal inspiration to me.

With this research from RANZCP in mind, a renewed focus on early intervention and treatment will not only boost prospects for recovery but should also lessen the need for more intensive treatment at a future point.

That’s why during Schizophrenia Awareness Week, SANE is calling on all political parties to commit more resources to early detection and treatment programs and services for psychotic illnesses, including schizophrenia.

SANE looks forward to continuing to work closely with all the major political parties in making this reality on behalf of all Australians living with complex mental illness.

Last updated: 1 March 2017