Suhi Rachamallu: Health Literacy & Schizophrenia


Original artwork create for Suhi's project!
INTRODUCTION

Mental illnesses have garnered immense stigmatization over time, and have become relatively prevalent in the modern age. Schizophrenia is a mental disease in which the brain alters how a person “thinks, feels, and behaves” (NIMH). This harmful illness is spoken under wraps due to the violent perspective people have coined to it in relation. The lack of definitive information accessible regarding schizophrenia has created multiple misinterpretations and stigmatization on this disease and how it affects patients who have been diagnosed.


SCHIZOPHRENIA

Schizophrenia is considered a chronic mental illness as it can “interpret reality abnormally” (Mayo Clinic). Schizophrenia exclusively impacts humans and can cause a variety of symptoms including altered vision, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, hallucinations, behavioral changes, weight gain, diabetes, and increased blood pressure. With these symptoms, Schizophrenia has also considered a physical disease due to the massive impact it can have on the human body. Schizophrenia is predicted to last one’s whole life, slowly deteriorating the mind and body without the proper treatment. One organelle affected by the illness is the Mitochondria. The DNA held in this organelle is wildly influenced by Schizophrenia, which later leads to further behavioral issues. As a result of minimal health literacy involving Schizophrenia, the stigma which stems from the disease is often tied to the uncontrollable symptoms. Often, society stereotypes Schizophrenia patients to be dangerous, however, the truth behind this myth lies within the treatment being received and “...failure on the part of the doctors rather than as a feature of a society which undervalues people with mental illness and under-funds mental health services” (Living With Schizophrenia UK). Only 12-15% of Schizophrenia patients exhibit violent behavior in everyday life. Another frequent misconception revolving around the illness is the lack of progress with medication or therapy, which causes less information to be published surrounding Schizophrenia and next to no advertisements to help enforce health and welfare remedies.

Schizophrenia has no current, physical cure at the moment, but it can be treated through medication and therapeutics. Scientists commonly attempt to find the root of the disease itself, mainly because the illness has been immensely prevalent for centuries. As stated by the National Institute of Mental Health from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, “Scientists believe that many different genes may increase the risk of schizophrenia development, but that no single gene causes the disorder by itself. It is not yet possible to use genetic information to predict who will develop schizophrenia.” Schizophrenia is a constantly developing disease which biologists continue to study with time and hope to provide a standard cure for shortly. In addition to this research, scientists have found the increasing mortality rates involving Schizophrenia are particularly higher than that of the average person. Schizophrenia patients are tied to having a higher risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts along with violence. Though the mortality rates differ from those of people without mental illness, the stigma behind Schizophrenia exaggerates most facts. The stigmatization behind the disease grows over time due to the lack of research being published for the common view. For example, it is believed that more men develop Schizophrenia however, women are just as likely to get it, but it has been proven that women experience more negative symptoms over time. The stigma behind Schizophrenia also denormalized patients, regarding them as useless and incapable of normal mundane activities. A myth spoken commonly about the disease is the inability to work with mental illness. However, it is proven that Schizophrenia patients can work as long as proper treatment and progress are shown. Racial profiling has been a common misconception regarding the illness as people believe African Americans and Hispanics have a higher tendency to be diagnosed. The stigma Schizophrenia has coined challenges patients and creates fear of the unknown for the public. The information not being published to the public involving schizophrenia generates stigma that can harm Schizophrenia patients and affects normality in society.





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(S. Rachamallu, personal communication, November 15, 2020).

Van Haute, CT. (2019). Bait [Sketch]. Baton Rouge, Louisiana.