Schizophrenia – on film

Time to Change, the campaign being run by a partnership of mental health charity, which is working towards challenging stigma which is faced by people with mental illnesses, is today launching a couple of films which are intended to work on some of the prejudices and preconceptions held.

The videos can be seen on the Time to Change website and are also going to be available on various other websites to be, according to the BBC, played in cinemas later in the year.

image atomicjeep at Flickr

Challenging some of the preconceptions that surround mental illness is certainly a positive as the preconceptions are invariably negative. I doubt there will be much measured effect but if it makes it easier for people to speak about mental illness and for the distress to be recognised, that can only be a good thing.

The BBC quotes a Yougov survey that indicates a third of people questioned thought that people suffering from schizophrenia were violent. It’s unsurprising and in some ways, I’m surprised it isn’t a higher figure.

The films will help I imagine, but the real stigma needs to be fought in some of the media reporting which tends to define people by their mental illnesses because it is an ‘easier’ explanation rather than display any kind of sensitivities or understanding of other factors that might come into play.

The actor in the films, Stuart Baker-Brow, has himself been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is quoted as saying he wanted to be involved in the filming in order to allay some of the assumptions and stigma that he faces, as he says to the BBC

“Helping to make the film has been part of a journey to take control of my life,” he said.

“Rather than giving up I made a decision to change my life, which was borne out of a necessity to prove not only to myself and to all those around me, that a good level of both physical and mental recovery from schizophrenia is possible.”

I don’t doubt that having these films is better than not having them. I hope they will make some difference, but there is probably a deeper level of understanding that needs to be reached for a difference truly to be made.

5 thoughts on “Schizophrenia – on film

  1. Hi, it’s great to see Stuart talk about his experiences. well said Stuart.
    Having came out about my experiences very publicly I can asure Stewart and others by sharing your experiences it really does make a difference. as I have had so much possitive feedback from many sources, including fom neighbours.

    I do feel that we need to concentrate on the person and the symptoms behaviours and not just some how glamorise the diognosis as it can distract from the actual illness. and yes recovery to a large extent is Oh so possible as I wrote.

    Check me out talking to Ruby at Ruby’s Room, talking about Post Traumatic Stress Dissorder, also on B.B.C. News On Line ”I was walking the streets Screaming”. Febuary 8th 2008.

    Paul at where I share openly many of my experiences and much possitivity.

    It really is TIME-TO-CHANGE.


  2. yawn! here we go again! the same patronising networked interests, mind, rethink , mental health media, etc. lecturing the public about negative perceptions of people with mental health problems.

    NIMHE and these MH charities have spent over £100 million on ‘anti stigma and discrimination ‘ measures in the last decade and guess what , Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer reports people with MH issues face even more discrimination from the evil public and of course he’d say that because he and the other MH charity bosses realise there’s easy money in the propaganda business.

    but the MH charities are not only ganging up to churn out this simplistic nonsense the majority are morphing into corporate service providers themselves often picking up meaty Government contracts to prise their service users off benefits to hit DWP targets so rather than having a genuine compassionate and charitable interest in people with MH issues these guys are living off them and almost promoting having MH issues as a middle class lifestyle choice as they hang out at comfy Mind towers or the Mental Health Foundations chic suite on the South Bank of the Thames.

    so lets look at the films today. in the first we get 30 seconds of pretty amatuerish schlock horror effects to create a lame scarry atmostphere then we get invited into the ideal home kitchen of a pleasant middle class schitzophrenic with a double barrelled name who’s able, well and at his best. so from the outset we’re upmarket. in the second film we have the same guy jerking around with a balloon spider at a kids party.

    oh is that all there is to mental health then? how very tidy and bourgeois..

    when the bbc first ran the story about the films this morning time for change were quoted as saying that people were more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by people with MH issues.

    this was pure nonsense as according to a number of the same MH charities the prisons are chocker with people with MH issues. surely a few of them are in for assault…

    someone at the beeb must have been told it was pure nonsense too as by lunchtime they’d changed the time to change line to people were about as likely to get struck by lightning as killed by a schitzophrenic.

    it was all very smug.

    MH service users are pleasant middle aged baby sitters who wear tea cosies..

    the message ? there’s no link between MH and violence

    the reality is probably a little more complex than this but we dont even neeed to go there as the charming nature of the double barrelled named schitzo in the films doesnt stop mind running a lock down policy thoughout its offices and services but oh!….. they would wouldnt they as one of their workers got murdered by a service user right in the shadow of their national HQ a few years ago.

    rethink arent very trusting either and guess what most NHS MH sites are locked down too , locked doors , CCTV , phone entry system and glazed reception ,etc.

    perhaps someone from mind, rethink or the mental health foundation would like to explain why the public should trust us when they dont.

    maybe we should make another film called ‘schitzo’ about this shameful hypocrisy.

    • Just because someone is middle class doesn’t mean they also can’t suffer from mental illness. I think it goes both ways and that although, yes, there is another side to the pain being experienced, the films add rather than take away from the knowledge base but of course that is just my opinion and it is useful to see the other side.
      Thanks for that.

  3. “Just because someone is middle class doesn’t mean they also can’t suffer from mental illness.”

    ..right but just because someone is working class or any other permutation of human apart from respectable white middle class doesnt justify them , their lifestyles and experiences of severe mental health problems being routinely airbrushed out of the picture for propaganda purposes either.

    we’re told 1 in 4 will have mh issues but the agenda of the white middle class mh poverty industry is fixated on misrepresenting mental health as an employment and rights issue that simply impacts on people like them.

    in this case we got the same double barrelled MC type twice.

    while looking for the two new films and coverage on them on the likes of rethink’s and the mental health foundation’s websites yesterday i noticed that this mental health embourgoisment process also stretches to other areas of the sectors charitable activity .

    rethink are inviting us to a tea party…

    and look at these from rethink and the mental health foundation for middle class lifestyle pointers…

    Vietnam cycle ride
    Kilimanjaro trek 2009
    Ben Nevis 2009
    The West Highland Way
    Hebridean Odyssey Cycle
    Peru Trek
    Nepal Trek
    Costa Rica Trek

    a day out in bognor anyone?

    this is how far the mh charity sector has disappeared up itself for its own ends , people are struggling to get help and support as even the most basic frontline mh services are pared to the bone while the charities live it up in swanky offices offering gap year student-like adventure holidays to able and well people like themselves to fund their top down political correctness.

    its no secret that the mh charities are in bed with the dwp to roll out government policy , particularly around employment and dismantling anything that hints of institutional care or dependency but its getting sickening to watch these charity business service providers pick up government contracts and pass themselves off as the divinely ordained representative voice of their mental health service users.

    isnt there just a slight conflict of interest here?

    in recent years the mh charities have received massive funding for networked anti-stigma and discrimination campaigning , routinely coming together under different names like ‘ time for change ‘ or ‘ shift ‘ – yes its the very same few people lurking behind these secretive orgs folks – and very little of that funding has been audited for effectiveness which is why paul farmer of mind has been able to claim that the stigma and discrimination people with mh issues face from employers and the public has actually increased over the time this campaigning has been going on to get hold of even more politically correct funding that simply gets diverted away from treatment and care and more basic and less sexy kinds of support.

    the charities keep hammering home the importance of the support of friends and family. unfortunately a lot of people with severe and enduring mh issues dont have great social circles or social skills and many come from care backgrounds or broken homes and they often get ignored because of the discriminatory type of cherry picking and misrepresentation the mh charity sector is involved in.

    of course their are fitter and more able types within any patient group , my point is, why the need to unduly focus on them as heroic when this is lazy harmful stereotyping too?

    one of the reasons why this is happening is because the mh charity sector has a hardcore of professional service users who work for them and so a lot of this propaganda is not only pushes the fortunes of their organisations as they hoover up campaign funding and service contracts , it also enhances their self esteem. of course they are never going to mainstream themselves as proof of concept but you’ll see them at conference after conference , from here to equality, time to change, one job at a time, etc. etc. revolving experiencing mental health issues around their own experience.

    the heroic look what we can achieve as people with mh issues !

    i’m happy for them the fact that they are totally dependent on self serving mental health charities rather than a day centre is no great achievment in my book, in fact, i think they are quite pathetic as some of these people have been engaged in user empowerment for 30 odds years and achieved little more than lining their own pockets and aggrandizing themselves.

    they have very little contact with us grunts…

    frontline mh workers,, shrinks and gps are also well aware of what is going on here but are too distracted by government cutbacks that the mh charity sector clandestinely supports for their own ends to say or do much about this themselves.

    besides its difficult taking on board the well connected politically correct who have even managed to get away with setting up a £750,000 sham national service user and survivor network (NSUN) fronted by mh charity professional service users to give themselves a mandate to campaign on our behalf. NSUN has ben around for 3 years, its a micro charity , it has no real mental health service user base but like ‘time for change’ and ‘shift’ this phantom body will be wheeled out on stage to create lofty impressions of connectedness and representationality when it suits the networked charity sector who’ve bought into this ‘ brokerage ‘ – their official term for it – to trade in the user voices.

    and yes people are more than a diagnosis that’s why we should be focussing on the stigma and discrimination that’s coming from the government and its charity sector allies , we need an mh system that works to support those with the most severe and enduring MH problems and not one that dismissively asserts that 1 in 4 will have mh issues but dont worry about it because stuart baker brown is taking his medication and is perfectly ok.

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