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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3497


Mrs ANDREWS (McPherson) (13:51): This week, from 12 to 18 May, is Schizophrenia Awareness Week. Schizophrenia is a major mental illness that affects up to one in 100 individuals across all populations. During Schizophrenia Awareness Week we can all take the opportunity to highlight and focus on the issues that affect people living with a mental illness and also their families and friends.

This year for Schizophrenia Awareness Week there is particular emphasis on raising awareness of the physical health issues that people with severe mental health issues have to face. Research shows that people with severe mental illness have much higher rates of physical illness than the general population. Life expectancy has been shown to be as much as 25 years less than for the general population, and having schizophrenia means that you are 50 per cent more likely to have a stroke and 20 per cent more likely to get cancer and have a one in three chance of developing diabetes.

There is, however, evidence showing that improving physical health will increase life expectancy, and the current campaign during Schizophrenia Awareness Week is promoting improving physical health to increase life expectancy, quality of life and overall wellbeing of those with schizophrenia. I urge the community to understand the issues behind mental illness and to support those with a mental illness, their families and their friends.