Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that includes a variety of symptoms, such as, but not limited to, delusions, hallucinations, disorganization of thoughts and behaviours that can be difficult for the general population to understand.
There is still quite a bit of stigma in the community regarding the illness. Many people have a lack of knowledge of what people with schizophrenia are facing in their daily lives.
People often view people living with schizophrenia as having multiple personalities and/or engaging in violent/aggressive behaviours, which more often than not, leads to marginalization within the community.
At Ontario Shores, a nurse’s role is to look at the person, not their illness. The nursing role also extends beyond the traditional medical approach - it’s about empowering and instilling hope through our recovery model of care.
When a nurse is interacting with an individual living with schizophrenia, there is a presence of empathy and acceptance of the illness and associated symptoms. The focus extends beyond the illness to explore other aspects of these patients. The nurse engages in a therapeutic conversation to learn more about their goals, ambitions and their passions since they are the expert of their own lives.
Ontario Shores follows a recovery philosophy which drives the care that the nurses deliver. They will also develop and maintain a therapeutic relationship with the patient and provide them with various opportunities to reintegrate them back into society. There is a strong focus on including the patient in the decision making to empower them in their journey of recovery.
Nurses also help with relapse prevention, since individuals may experience relapse over time. Nurses play an important role in engaging in psychoeducation to help patients identify their early warning signs, coping skills and tools that may help these individuals regain control as well as prevent hospitalization.
At Ontario Shores, there are a variety of services and/or resources that patients can benefit from to support them in their recovery. As an example, Recovery College is an opportunity for patients to learn and discover through courses that offer education about mental illnesses, treatment options, wellness and ultimately discovering or rediscovering passions, hope, and meaning.
“We need to continue to break the stigma surrounding the words ‘mental illness’ and ‘schizophrenia’. When people hear the word ‘schizophrenia’ there is still a label without asking the important questions, such as: what is schizophrenia? What does it mean for those who live with this illness? What can I do to help and support individuals living with this illness? We, as nurses, look at the person as a whole and put ourselves in their shoes. We work collaboratively with our patients, families, and interprofessional teams to ensure we provide the best recovery focused care. We continue to role model and lead by example, here at Ontario Shores, to reduce the stigma surrounding the illness within our community” – Renee Pare, Registered Nurse at Ontario Shores.
The nurse must support them through their recovery journey and provide them with various skill sets to get them where they want to be since they deserve the same opportunities as any other individual in our society. Schizophrenia does not discriminate - it can affect any individual regardless of their age, gender, and socioeconomic class. Nurses, along with their professional team continue to work together to break the silence and the stigma surrounding schizophrenia.
SERIOUS ABOUT SCHIZOPHRENIA - Ontario Shores worked with Ipsos Marketing to gauge society’s views on schizophrenia in honour of the specialty mental health hospital’s upcoming 100th anniversary. Click here to learn more about the study which inspired this #MindVine series, which looks at the chronic brain disease from multiple angles.