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#TBT: Mental Health Month—Managing Schizophrenia

May 7, 2015

As part of our “Throwback Thursday” blog series, we’re taking a look at a topic that’s currently in the news and tagging it with previous research, videos or commentaries in a relevant way. As the saying goes, “what’s old is new again” – and we hope you enjoy our wonky twist on #TBT.

Mental health comprises our emotional, psychological and social well-being. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population experiences mental illness in a given year. During May—recognized as Mental Health Month—it’s a time to raise awareness of mental illness and treatment options.

There is a wide spectrum of mental illnesses, and some disorders are more severe and difficult to treat, such as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a chronic and potentially disabling brain disorder that affects roughly 2.2 million American adults.

In 2004, the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) published a research monograph, “Disease Management for Schizophrenia,” (and our #TBT pick of the week) that provides an introduction to disease management and interventions for schizophrenia. According to the publication, efforts to manage schizophrenia are less established than other efforts for chronic illnesses, such as asthma and diabetes.

Schizophrenia poses more of a challenge to manage because it usually causes greater disability than other mental and physical illnesses, the publication noted. However, the authors suggest several approaches in the “Strategies for Overcoming Barriers to the Management of Schizophrenia” section that have the potential to improve therapeutic outcomes for people with schizophrenia:

  • Promoting accountability by providing financial incentives and requiring providers to assume some of the financial risk associated with poor care;
  • Coordinating care between mental health specialists and primary care providers may allow for early detection of comorbid medical conditions and improve outcomes;
  • Establishing a rapport between the patient and health care provider may improve the management of schizophrenia because of the link between patients’ trust in their physician and patients’ adherence to the treatment plan; and
  • Receiving information about the diagnosis and medication management is judged helpful by people with schizophrenia who participate in a self-management program.

Finding the right treatment option for people with schizophrenia can be challenging, because as the National Alliance on Mental Illness points out, “Treatment choices for mental health conditions will vary from person to person. Even people with the same diagnosis will have different experiences, needs, goals and objectives for treatment. There is no ‘one size fits all’ treatment.”

Want to learn about ways to raise awareness about mental health? Visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation’s websites for a list of various ways to raise awareness, and download a toolkit of educational materials from Mental Health America’s website. You also can participate in the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s live Twitter chat on mental illness using the hashtag #mhtalk on May 19, 2015, at 3 pm ET.

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