About Schizophrenia

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental illness in a given year, and schizophrenia, which is characterized by abnormal social behavior and an inability to understand what is real, is not uncommon. 
The film explores the links between creative genius and madness. An aggressive awareness campaign will be launched jointly with Fountain House, as, like Thayer, less than 50% of those afflicted with this devastating disease get the help they need. 

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that can seriously affect a person's life, as well as their family and friends. The onset of schizophrenia usually takes place in the late teens or early 20's. Around the world, approximately 1% of the population will experience some form of schizophrenia.

How is schizophrenia diagnosed?

A trained mental health professional can make a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and will look for periods of acute psychosis lasting longer than two weeks, or a pattern of acute psychosis over time.

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

Symptoms of schizophrenia appear gradually over time, usually beginning when a person is in adolescence or young adulthood. Tenseness, inability to sleep or concentrate and social withdrawal often mark the initial onset.

More serious symptoms emerge as the illness progresses, including nonsensical statements and unusual perceptions of common experience. People living with schizophrenia often believe that someone is spying on them, or that someone can "hear" their thoughts.

Many people living with schizophrenia live relatively normal lives, but during the acute or "psychotic" phases of the illness the same person may experience hallucinations, delusions,  or disconnected speech and thinking.

It's also important to note that while schizophrenia has a recognizable and specific set of symptoms, it varies widely in its severity from person to person.

What causes schizophrenia? Is there a cure?

The cause of schizophrenia is unknown, but a number of theories are being researched to identify the root causes of the disease.

There is no cure for schizophrenia. With the potential causes rooted in a complex combination of genetics, brain chemistry and environmental factors, an outright cure is unlikely for the immediate future.

How is schizophrenia treated?

The treatment of schizophrenia has advanced dramatically in recent years. Using a combination of medication with the intervention of concerned and informed caregivers and family members, people with schizophrenia are reaching higher levels of reintegration than ever before.

Community mental health models such as the Fountain House model, cognitive behavioral therapy and cognitive remediation have helped persons with schizophrenia improve significantly.  

Is a complete recovery possible?

Schizophrenia is a disease that will likely affect a person for the rest of his/her life. But there are more and more people who, through skillful treatment, are finding satisfying work, living independently and forming meaningful relationships.

Where can someone turn for help?

There are many organizations and other information resources that are available to help people with serious mental illness, their families and concerned caregivers. They include both local organizations and national advocacy groups. Many states have created programs specifically to help people with schizophrenia reintegrate into larger society.

FAQs provided thanks to Dr. Ralph Aquila, Fountain House Medical Director, Sidney R. Baer Jr. Center Medical Director and Community Psychiatrist, and the Center for Reintegration.


About Fountain House

Since 1948, NYC-based Fountain House, recipient of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, has empowered people with serious mental illness to live and thrive in society.

In the late 1940’s, seven patients from Rockland State Hospital in Orangeburg, New York, formed a self-help group that met in a hospital “club room” to prepare and support each other to reenter society. It was their decision, after being released, to continue meeting on the steps of the New York Public Library that planted the seed for the creation of a movement that has influenced the world. Never before had people living with serious mental illness banded together and set out to prove to themselves and to society that recovery was possible. Originally, they called their group “We Are Not Alone” which became Fountain House in 1948, named for its West 47th Street building that had a fountain in its garden.

Today, nearly 70 years later, Fountain House touches the lives of 1,300 members annually in New York City. Programs modeled after Fountain House exist in 34 US states and in 30 countries, reaching over 100,000 individuals. 

Fountain House works with people living with serious mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. The programs in New York City have provided over 20,000 individuals with the most serious forms of mental illness a place to come, people to form meaningful relationships with and a life purpose that goes beyond the management of their symptoms.

The inherent humanity, social inclusivity, personal empowerment, and innovation of the approach have made Fountain House the most widely replicated evidence-based model for people living with mental illness in the world.

Learn more at: www.fountainhouse.org