Serious mental illnesses include diagnoses that typically involve losing touch with reality or experiencing delusion (referred to as psychosis) or diagnoses requiring high levels of care, either of which may require hospital treatment. Two of the most common severe mental illnesses are schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic depression). There can be misunderstanding, fear and significant stigma surrounding serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It’s time to talk openly about these serious illnesses — what they are — and how they can be treated.

Schizophrenia can affect anyone. It usually starts to affect people in the teen years, though females often start to experience the illness a little later than males. No one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia or why it can affect people so differently. Genes, the way a person’s brain develops, and life events may all play a part. — Canadian Mental Health Association

Shane’s story

Shane VanNice was, at one time, homeless and suffering from mental illness and addiction. Shane was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, but he only began to understand his illness after he was hospitalized and treated with appropriate medications. It took some time for that to happen. But Shane now has insight into his illness. And supportive housing — in this case offered by Vancouver Island Mental Health Society in Nanaimo, British Columbia — has proven to be essential to his continued recovery and stability.

Listen to Shane’s story, in his own words, as broadcast on People First Radio.

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Image (top) by People First Media/VIMHS