Understanding schizophrenia – do what you can do

| May 20, 2016

At the Schizophrenia Awareness Week comes to an end, Rob Ramjan, CEO of the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, urges us all to get to understand the complexity and hopefully be more supportive of people with schizophrenia and their carers.

Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2016 is the 30th such week, and it’s a good time to reflect on what, if any, changes have occurred.

People do seem to have a better understanding of the illness and its symptoms but the stigmatisation remains high. The community still has fear and misunderstanding. Myths about the illness still pervade.

It is still believed that people with schizophrenia are violent and uncontrollable where evidence clearly identifies that this is not so. There are undeniably incidences of violence, but these are mostly attributable to people developing the illness and not receiving treatment.

Recent reports suggest that instead of improving the life span gap for people with schizophrenia we have gone backwards. In Australia people with schizophrenia live on average 25 years less than the national average and this appears to be getting worse.

Type II diabetes remains a problem of criminal proportions, a base rate of 25% of people with schizophrenia developing this disease which is four times the national community average and double the rate in our indigenous community. Yet there is no specific strategy at a state or federal level to address this, and schizophrenia is still not listed as a risk factor for developing type II diabetes.

Carers of people with a mental illness received a great boost with a national mental health respite program. This has made so much difference to carers. It will disappear over the next three years as the funding transfers completely to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This is true of other federally funded programs as well, such as Personal Helpers and Mentors, Day to day Living and Partners in Recovery.

We cannot celebrate, nor can we stand still. We must not go backwards!

In 2016 we are launching a two year campaign to address these issues at the grassroots level by engaging with the community at large.

Our question for 2016 is: Are You Still in the Dark?

We will provide avenues for the general community to know more, understand the complexity, and hopefully be more supportive of people with schizophrenia and their carers. One of our initial efforts is the launch of “Do What You Can Do”, a website hosting a simple quiz. Our call to arms is no more than – share this with others.

Over the next two years we will present at least one hundred stories of Australians doing what they can do to change this intolerable situation for people with schizophrenia – and I implore each reader to Do What You Can Do.



  1. robert.wade

    May 20, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Going backwards?

    You say that. Schizophrenia Fellowship NSW FB censors all posts on Fiona Barbieri and her son Mitchell. The last straw for them was apparently my criticising Archbishop Anthony Fisher for his derogatory comments about the Barbieris being "man-made evil". The Barbieris were attacked by NSW Police when locked in their own home. SF gets paid by NSW Police for training. Fiona Barbieri had chronic paranoid schizophrenia 4 years: untreated. She was in gaol over 7 weeks for murder before being started on antipsychotics. Mitchell was 15 when his Mum became psychotic. After 2 years he was psychotic with her delusions: folie a deux, published in French science 1877. In 2 years psychotic until the police violence, he also had no treatment. Recovered in gaol. SF has nothing to say, and censors me when I protest. If we're going backwards, SF is well and truly part of the problem.

    • Rob Ramjan

      Rob Ramjan

      May 23, 2016 at 1:12 am

      Going backwards

      Dear Robert, you posted some hundreds of comments similar to this one on our various sites, so I don't think that can be called censorship. We eventually had to block you following multiple requests from our readers and followers to do so. I note the blocking was done reluctantly. As I have noted to you before, you have no idea what we have been doing yet you persist in your allegations.

      • robert.wade

        May 24, 2016 at 8:57 am

        Please simply respond about Fiona Barbieri

        Thank you for your response: I think it's the longest reply I've ever received from SFNSW. I totally agree that posting comments isn't censorship. Censorship is the deleting of them and then blocking me. My allegations follow from your failure to make any public comment about Fiona Barbieri: her story has many elements one would expect a Schizophrenia Fellowship to be very actively concerned about. My allegations stand in the absence of information from you. I used Facebook to comment on your FB site: I received no messages from your readers and followers suggesting I should be blocked, and I don't recall any posts on your FB page from anyone suggesting I should be blocked. I presume the complaining "followers" include Carers NSW, their Young Carers, and the NSW Mental Health Commission, all of whom censor the Barbieri story and block me. I strongly criticise Archbishop Anthony Fisher: to his enormous credit, he hasn't blocked me either on FB or twitter. If you're claiming you're doing something about Fiona Barbieri, then I do have no idea: I beg you to make such activity public. I hope at some point there will be one or more studies into the failure of the enormous NSW mental health advocacy industry to actually address the various problems revealed by the story of Fiona Barbieri.

  2. creighton

    May 21, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Psychotropics can reproduce, Mental Health An Infection?

    Thank you. Also a piece of information: In National Geographic Issue number unknown presently There was an article saying psychotropics can reproduce in the brain There was also statements I can't remember so well now I do remember that if psychotropics reproduce then this may for some people with Mental Health Issues, an Infection of psychotropics Please respond to this if you can, it may have significant value to people, Australia and the world

    • Rob Ramjan

      Rob Ramjan

      May 23, 2016 at 1:19 am


      Dear Creighton, I am unaware of this article and was not able to find it. Will look further and also seek clarification.