THIS month marked World Mental Health Day. This year, organisations across the globe highlighted the issue of living with schizophrenia.
Some 26m people are affected by schizophrenia worldwide. In spite of being treatable, more than 50% of people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia cannot access adequate treatment and 90% of people with untreated schizophrenia live in the developing world. In the UK, psychiatrists and psychologists marked World Mental Health Day with a call for improved funding for research into serious mental health conditions.
The British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Psychiatrists joined forces to emphasise the role research has in better understanding mental health, improving the lives of those affected and in helping to reduce the stigma of mental health.
According to recent information from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), the UK spends £130m annually on mental health research. This is only 10% of spending on health research by public bodies.
In Northern Ireland, there needs to be considerably more progress in promoting access to psychological therapies for those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Research is needed to ensure we increase our understanding of these conditions and add to advances in effective therapies to improve people's lives.
DR CIARAN SHANNON
British Psychological Society in Northern Ireland