World Mental Health Day: Manchester on brink of schizophrenia crisis

Manchester is one of the worst areas to battle schizophrenia, revealed a leading doctor studying the condition who insists that mental health is facing significant ‘social problems’.

Between 2,500 and 3,000 people are currently suffering from the illness in Manchester, as urban areas see higher rates of the condition yet are struggling to provide the necessary services to deal with the numbers. 

At present, schizophrenia services cost the UK economy an estimated £12billion-a-year as 26million people worldwide suffer from the condition, and 1% of the country’s population will at some point in their lives be affected by it.

And as today marks World Mental Health Day, Dr Richard Drake, clinical lead for adults of working age at the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, believes people need to talk more openly about mental health.

“If a baby or cancer unit was to close down there would be uproar in the community, but if a psychiatric unit was to close people might be quietly happy about that,” he told MM.

“It is a wider social problem. I think sometimes people feel more comfortable admitting they have diabetes than having a mental illness.

“It’s influenced by a whole range of things but people feel there is nothing you can do about it and they feel confused about it.”

People suffering from schizophrenia can suffer from a number of symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, muddled thinking and negative symptoms.

Developing the illness depends on a combination of genetic make-up and what environment someone grows up in, as a more stressful environment, substance abuse and homelessness can all lead to the development of schizophrenia.

And just earlier this week, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg stated in his party conference speech that treating mental health patients was a top priority and proposed plans that 18 weeks would be the maximum waiting time for someone needing to seek treatment about their illness.

But Dr Drake believes that more can and needs to be done.

“Problems here in Manchester are worse than the expected incident rate,” he said.

“The chance of developing schizophrenia is increased in urban areas and obviously Manchester is a very urban area.

“Those chances are increased if you suffer from say substance abuse or homelessness and we are also finding that people migrating from Somalia and Afghanistan, for example, face an increased risk due to illness.

“It is an ongoing problem and it has always been very difficult as services in the city face a big burden.”

Dr Drake, who has been working for more than 20 years on schizophrenia and mental health, studies a range of areas to help those suffering from the condition such as research into suicide, new drug treatments and ways to increase input into treatment decisions from service users and families.

Around 6% of people suffering from the condition take their own lives every year and there is one homicide a year for every two million of the population.

And Dr Drake insists that seeking help early when starting to suffer from illness is vital.

“Helping people get treatment quite soon is valuable and very important,” he added.

“It is vital to speak to someone about what you are experiencing in the first few weeks as if you leave it six months that may as well be six years.”

At present, Salford offers mental health prevention centres for those who feel as though they are suffering from mental health and need to talk about it.

For further information about schizophrenia and World Mental Health Day, click here

Image courtesy of jsellger2 with thanks

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