Study highlights the extent of schizophrenia stigma

Kathryn Wheeler
By Kathryn Wheeler,
updated on Sep 24, 2021

Study highlights the extent of schizophrenia stigma

In the study, researchers uncovered the extent of the stigmatisation of schizophrenia, as well as common misconceptions, highlighting the way this impacts those who live with it

In the last decade, an immense amount of work has been done to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health, and the people who live with mental illnesses. But it's clear that there’s still much work left to be done, as a new study highlighted when its findings uncovered the extent of stigmatisation surrounding the condition schizophrenia.

Described by the NHS as a severe long-term mental health condition which causes a range of psychological symptoms, schizophrenia is a type of psychosis – meaning the individual may not always be able to distinguish between their thoughts and ideas and reality.

Symptoms of schizophrenia:

  • Hallucinations – both visual and audible
  • Delusions – unusual beliefs that are not based on reality
  • Muddled thoughts as a result of delusions and hallucinations
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Avoid people, including loved ones

In research sponsored by consumer insights company Toluna, and independent research agency XSIGHTS, a representative sample of 1,500 adults in the USA, UK, South Africa, France, India, and Brazil were surveyed about their attitudes towards schizophrenia.

One way that the stigma was measured was through assessing the personal distance that respondents would keep between themselves and a person with schizophrenia – the findings showing that almost half of respondents would not allow a person with schizophrenia to look after their children, and some respondents stating they would be upset about having someone with schizophrenia as a neighbour, or a close friend.

But in addition to stigmatising attitudes, the study also highlighted misconceptions and lack of knowledge about the condition – with less than half of respondents agreeing that schizophrenia is caused by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, and 35% of French respondents believing that it is caused by the use of illegal substances.

“Mental health and wellbeing is important to all of us, our families, friends, colleagues, and wider communities,” says Frederic-Charles Petit, CEO and founder of Toluna. “So it is critical, now more than ever, that we are mindful of this and we consider how we can raise awareness, break down barriers, and support each other in our daily lives.”

“Our survey reveals the extent to which we all need to be inclusive towards persons with mental health problems, and with schizophrenia, in particular,” said Çiğdem Penn, founder and general manager of XSIGHTS. “The findings describe how stigmatisation inhibits any chance of leading a balanced life and how it results in exploitation, victimisation, chronic poverty, and eventually suicide. Each country has its own way of dealing with schizophrenia, but all share the same need for raising awareness about the condition, its causes, and course. It is, however, very encouraging to see that great numbers of respondents are willing to provide support and be more inclusive towards patients.”

If you would like to learn more about schizophrenia, and sort facts from myths, visit

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