Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder characterised by distortions in thinking, perception, emotions, language, sense of self and behaviour.

It often includes psychotic experiences, such as hearing voices or delusions. It can impair functioning through the loss of an acquired capability to earn a livelihood, or the disruption of studies.


Common experiences include:

  • Hallucination: hearing, seeing or feeling things that are not there.
  • Delusion: fixed false beliefs or suspicions not shared by others in the person’s culture and that are firmly held even when there is evidence to the contrary.
  • Abnormal Behaviour: disorganised behavior such as wandering aimlessly, mumbling or laughing to self, strange appearance, self-neglect or appearing unkempt
  • Disorganised speech; incoherent or irrelevant speech
  • Disturbances of emotions: marked apathy or disconnect between reported emotion and what is observed such as facial expression or body language

Causes of schizophrenia

Research has not identified one single factor. It is thought that an interaction between genes and a range of environmental factors may cause schizophrenia.  Psychosocial factors may also contribute to schizophrenia.


Schizophrenia is treatable. Treatment with medicines and psychosocial support is effective. However, the majority of people with chronic schizophrenia lack access to treatment.

There is clear evidence that old-style mental hospitals are not effective in providing the treatment that people with mental disorders need. ​​​​​​​​ 

Efforts to transfer care from mental health institutions to the community need to be expanded and accelerated. The engagement of family members and the wider community in providing support is very important.

Mental Health Programmes have demonstrated the feasibility of providing care to people with severe mental illness through primary health-care system by:

  • training primary health-care personnel;
  • providing access to essential drugs;
  • ​​​supporting families in providing home care;
  • educating the public to decrease stigma and discrimination;
  • ​​enhancing independent living skills through recovery-oriented psychosocial interventions (e.g., life skills training, social skills training) for people with schizophrenia and for their families and/or caregivers; and
  • facilitating independent living, if possible or assisted living, supported housing and supported employment for people with schizophrenia. This can act as a base for people with schizophrenia to achieve recovery goals. People affected by schizophrenia often face difficulty in obtaining or retaining normal employment or housing opportunities.

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