April 24, 2003 For Immediate Release
NEW SCHIZOPHRENIA PROGRAM TARGETS TEENS
Reaching Out Teaches Youth about Mental Illness, Reduces Stigma
The Schizophrenia Society of Canada (SSC) and its Provincial Societies announced the national launch of Reaching Out, a new teen-oriented educational program designed to raise the awareness and understanding about schizophrenia, a brain disease that first presents itself in young men and women between the ages of 15-25. Through a substantial contribution from Health Canada, the Schizophrenia Society is offering the complete Reaching Out resource kit free of charge to educators as a
way of communicating key information that will help promote early diagnosis and treatment.
“Our goal is to minimize stigma and reach young people, who are most at risk in developing this disease,” explains SSC President Fred Dawe. “The early symptoms are often overlooked and since schizophrenia continues to carry an unfortunate stigma, many families are embarrassed and don’t seek early diagnosis. But, the earlier the diagnosis and treatments, the better the prognosis.” Mr. Dawe further pointed out that recent medical advances in drug therapy
combined with the support of family and friends as well as community supports are key to assisting individuals with schizophrenia in leading full, productive lives, especially if they receive early treatment.
Reaching Out is Canada’s first national initiative targeting teens and mental illness. It allows educators to empathetically expose young people to the sensitive topic of mental illness by providing them with real tools to help others. Resource materials use simple and clear language and are available in both English and French. Importantly, the program does not require that educators have prior knowledge of mental illness.
The resource kit includes a professionally-produced “docu-drama” video, recommended lesson plans, FAQ’s, suggested role-playing scenarios, and a number of helpful web links and referral sources. The video portrays the isolation, confusion and fear that grips sufferers, which is compounded by teenage immaturity and the inability of sufferers to “self-diagnose.”
Originally developed as a pilot program by the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society and a medical advisory committee representing well known and respected mental health professionals, Reaching Out has been extensively reviewed and tested within the educational, medical and social services sectors. Based on a rigorous review process by the Population Health Fund, Health Canada awarded a $200,000 contribution to the Schizophrenia Society of Canada to nationalize the pilot program.
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Telephone: (905) 415-2007 Toll Free 1-888-772-4673 Fax: (905) 415-2337
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.schizophrenia.ca
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“The Reaching Out program is a proven educational tool in conveying important information about schizophrenia to Canadian teenagers, and Health Canada’s financial contribution has allowed us to offer this program free of charge to educators across Canada,” stated Mr. Dawe.
Reaching Out is also continuing to earn the support of a number of leading organizations, including the Canadian Teacher’s Federation, Canadian Psychiatric Association, and the Canadian Counsellors’ Association, among others. It was recently approved by the Nova Scotia Department of Education to become part of the Grade 9 curriculum in its “Personal Development and Relationships” course.
Schizophrenia is a medical disease now affecting 1 out of every 100 people. It costs Canadian taxpayers an estimated $4 Billion annually. Individuals with schizophrenia occupy 8% of all hospital beds, more than any other diagnosis. While its exact cause is unknown, recent research indicates that schizophrenia alters both the physical structure and chemistry of the brain. It manifests itself usually between that ages of 15 to 25
The Schizophrenia Society of Canada is a national registered charity founded in 1979, now working with 10 provincial societies and with over 100 chapters across Canada. Its mission is “to alleviate the suffering caused by schizophrenia and related mental disorders.”
For more information, please contact:
Upside Potential Inc.
web site: www.schizophrenia.ca
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