May 24: World Schizophrenia Day
Today, the report of the project “Developing trust and effective care for people with schizophrenia” by Gamian Europe, in collaboration with the European Psychiatric Association and with the support of Angelini Pharma, has been released.
According to data from the World Health Organization, approximately 24 million people worldwide suffer from schizophrenia, a mental disorder associated with a host of prejudices and stereotypes that fuel the stigma against those affected. A World Day dedicated to these individuals is observed every May 24th, with the aim of combating this stigma and emphasizing that schizophrenia can be treated. The World Day also seeks to raise awareness about early diagnosis and actively involve patients in their own care.
On this occasion, the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks - Europe (Gamian - Europe), also supported by Angelini Pharma, in collaboration with the European Psychiatric Association (EPA) is unveiling the report 'Developing trust and effective care for people with schizophrenia’. It presents findings and recommendations aimed at strengthening and improving the therapeutic relationship between patients with schizophrenia and their psychiatrists.
Some data on schizophrenia
The term “schizophrenia” means “split mind” and was coined in 1910 by Swiss psychiatrist Paul Eugen Bleuler. Schizophrenia affects approximately 24 million people worldwide, with a rate of 0.32% or one in every 300 individuals. This rate rises to 0.45% when considering only adults. The onset of this disorder often occurs during adolescence and early adulthood1 and affects men and women equally2.
Schizophrenia is frequently associated with stress and difficulties at various levels: interpersonal, family, social, school and work1. In addition, people with this disorder are two to three times more likely to experience premature death than the general population1.
The importance of treatment and inclusion of patients in the care pathway
Schizophrenia is believed to be caused by the interplay of multiple factors, including genetics, the environment and psychosocial elements1. This disorder is characterised by alterations in the way reality is perceived, with behavioural changes, persistent delusions, and hallucinations that impair the ability to work, study, or perform normal daily activities2.
Available treatments are mainly based on the management of core symptoms, through drug therapies complemented by psychotherapy and rehabilitation measures2. As the World Health Organization (WHO) points out, a recovery-oriented approach that empowers people with schizophrenia to participate in decisions related to their treatment is essential for patients, family members and caregivers1.
The Gamian Europe-EPA Project
As part of this delicate patient-psychiatrist interaction, Gamian Europe and EPA conducted a research study to assess the experiences from the patient’s and psychiatrist’s perspective, the factors that foster a positive relationship between them, and the associated benefits3. The survey saw the participation of 28 patients with schizophrenia and 28 psychiatrists from four European countries: Germany, Hungary, Poland and Italy3.
The results indicated that patients and psychiatrists have positive experiences with respect to their relationship. In addition, the survey revealed that practices in psychiatry have changed over the past two decades with progress made in building a trusting relationship between patients and psychiatrists3. Notable changes in psychiatric practices include involving family members in patients’ recovery and treatment and actively engaging patients in their treatment journey3. However, the report concludes that further improvements can still be made. The survey suggests that effective treatment should restore the balance between medication and psychotherapy and incorporate peer support in clinical practice3.
Angelini Pharma’s commitment to people suffering from mental disorders
Angelini Pharma is committed to improving the management and quality of life for people with mental disorders and their loved ones. In addition to developing new treatments and therapies, the company aims to raise awareness about mental illness and provide education and support for patients and their families. This commitment involves collaborating with patient advocacy groups and nonprofit organisations.
Even more so in a field like mental health, where patients and family members bring unique experiences, Angelini Pharma believes in partnering with patient associations and is committed to an ongoing, transparent and collaborative dialogue. Support for Gamian Europe is just one example, but there are many associations that the company supports through various campaigns.
It is only by creating strong, lasting relationships and valuable planning with those on the patients’ side that the needs of patients and their families can be understood, to help them in their care pathway and facilitate their access to adequate health care.
- WHO https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/schizophrenia
- ISS https://www.epicentro.iss.it/schizofrenia/
- Gamian Europe – EPA. Developing trust and effective care for people with schizophrenia: patients and psychiatrists working in partnership. February 2023