Schizophrenia myths get a Rethink
Adman James Allan never came face-to-face with schizophrenia until a friend suggested he hire a relative who suffered from the condition.
After some initial hesitation Mr Allan took the plunge and employed the young man for his firm.
‘‘It’s fair to say I was a bit nervous about it, but I hired him for a year and I have to say he was great. He had an incredible mind, he was an amazing thinker,’’ the Kingsland resident says.
‘‘We treated him like a part of the team, not like someone with schizophrenia. And it really changed him.’’
The young man was not the only one altered by the experience.
Mr Allan had his eyes opened to the string of myths that swirl around schizophrenia.
‘‘The two biggest myths out there is, number one, that they have split personalities and the second one is that they are violent. Both of which are untrue,’’ he says.
Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that affects the way people think and act.
People who have the condition may lose touch with reality and experience hallucinations.
Rethink Schizophrenia is a programme aimed at reducing the stigma around the disorder, which effects about one in 100 people.
Rethink is run by Mind and Body Consultants alongside the Mental Health Foundation.
Part of Rethink’s campaign was holding a competition to create a billboard that challenges the myths around schizophrenia.
Mr Allan saw the competition as a way to support the cause and help ‘‘humanise’’ the disorder.
His winning design is a simple yet striking image of a young woman with the words: ‘‘One mind, one heart, one personality, just like you.’’
‘‘For that particular concept I went after the paradigm of split personalities. Someone might have schizophrenia, but they are just like you,’’ he explains.
The billboard is installed on Karangahape Rd, where it will remain for the the month of November.
Hugh Norris from the Mental Health Foundation says the billboard ‘‘encourages people to drop the label and see the individual’’.
There is also a Rethink website where people can explore real stories and experiences.
‘‘We hope that the site will give people the tools to challenge others who may use stigmatising language around schizophrenia,’’ Mr Norris says.
Schizophrenia Awareness Week runs November 11 to 17.
Mythbuster: James Allan’s winning billboard design addresses some of the myths that surround schizophrenia.