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Going “Beyond Schizophrenia” to combat stigma and spread knowledge

Posted on 05-04-16 in Mental Health

Going “Beyond Schizophrenia” to combat stigma and spread knowledge

Schizophrenia is a complicated and commonly misunderstood mental health disorder. Often mixed up with multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia symptoms often entail:

  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thinking and speech
  • An inability to function normally (e.g. showing emotion through facial expression)

The thing is though that this information is available. Current research continues to dive deeper into the minute details of the “how” and “why” of the disorder, and yet society continues to struggle with looking beyond stereotypes and seeing the reality of what schizophrenia is.

It is worst for those dealing with the disorder and their loved ones. Imagine having to deal with serious schizophrenic symptoms and still needing to function normally. Imagine doing one’s best to do live a normal life, but being viewed as a ticking time bomb the instant one’s condition is revealed.

Imagine being a parent having to watch this and feeling totally at a loss for what to do to help.

Thankfully, loved ones of those dealing with schizophrenia are not alone in their situation, and neither are schizophrenics. One of the advocates of these individuals includes the author of “Beyond Schizophrenia,” and she is a good advocate to have.

Beyond Schizophrenia: Living and Working With a Serious Mental Illness” was written by Marjorie Baldwin, researcher of economics and disability and mother to a son with schizophrenia. Taking on both her professional and personal experiences, Baldwin seeks to provide a comprehensive explanation of why, despite major medical advances, those with schizophrenia continue to fare much worse than most other disadvantaged groups in the labor market.

Baldwin’s book looks at three major areas for discussion. The first major focus point looks at societal factors that can affect employment for those with schizophrenia and other major mental illnesses. These include stigma, discrimination, investments in human capital, the quality of mental health services, and the support of family and friends.

The next major focus of the book looks at factors in the workplace itself that affect employment for those with serious mental health problems. These include employer mandates in the Americans With Disabilities Act, the decision to divulge a mental health diagnosis at work, the complications caused by job demands and functional limitations, and job accommodations for those with major mental health problems.

Lastly, Baldwin closes out her book by giving weight to both employer and employee perspectives. She uses the final chapter to outline a set of policy recommendations meant to improve employment outcomes for those struggling with serious mental health illness.

Thoughts from a previous reader

Fred Frese, Ph.D., is a professor of psychiatry at Northeast Medical University. He reviews Baldwin’s book positively, saying that she “weaves her experiences as a close family member of a seriously mentally ill person with hard hitting, scholarly arguments for improving our dysfunctional, fragmented mental health system.” He continues by stating, “This book is a riveting clarion call for action.”

About the author of ‘Beyond Schizophrenia’

Marjorie L. Baldwin, is a labor economist who has conducted research on disability and disability-related discrimination for almost thirty years. She works as a professor in the department of economics at the W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University. After her son was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his junior year of college, she focused her disability studies on persons with mental illness in the labor market. Baldwin has either authored or co-authored more than 50 articles and book chapters, and has a national reputation for her studies of employment outcomes among persons with serious mental illness (SMI).

Baldwin has been a principal investigator for major studies of labor market discrimination against persons with SMI. She is sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, and National Institute of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Currently she also works as Academic Director of Public Health Programs in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State and is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, where she is chair of the Study Panel of Workers’ Compensation Data.

About the author

Brianna Gibbons is a web producer for the Sovereign Health Group. She graduated from Westmont College with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently works hard to organize and publish the content created by Sovereign Health for the blogs and websites. In her spare time, Brianna loves to read, write, knit, travel, dote on her pets and randomly go on small adventures with friends.