The stigma attached to mental illness is due to a lack of education about diseases such as schizophrenia. According to the Surgeon General, “…stigma [is] one of the major barriers that discourages adults from seeking treatment. One study found that people live with their symptoms for ten years before seeking treatment” (Abderholden). If more people were educated about mental illness, the stigma would decrease and more people would be able to receive the treatment they need. Authors like Patrick and Henry Cockburn and John Wray hope that their literature on the subject with help increase awareness about mental illnesses making it easier for people suffering with diseases like schizophrenia to get proper medical attention and fair treatment from the public.
Because of the mental illnesses have been so severely stigmatized over the years and research has been lacking in the field, there has been little progress made when it comes to properly treating schizophrenia. In an article recently written about how schizophrenia is identified and treated, it was stated, “In taking stock of our current body of knowledge, we venture to say that day-to-day management of schizophrenia appears not to have changed very much” (Tandon, Nasralla, and Keshaven, 1). Even though our scientific knowledge has advanced considerably since the 19th century, patients suffering from mental illnesses continue to receive inadequate treatment. In Henry’s Demons, Patrick Cockburn and Henry Cockburn provide commentary on the abysmal conditions of the English healthcare system and the cruel conditions patients live under. By increasing the awareness of the subpar quality of care provided by mental illness treatment centers, hopefully changes will be made within these institutions in order to help patients as opposed to exacerbating their symptoms.
The technology available to researchers has progressed a great deal over time making it unreasonable that mental illness patients today are living under similar conditions as patients in the 19th and 20th centuries. More resources need to be allocated to mental illness research as well as to public education about mental illnesses in order to truly help patients suffering with diseases such as schizophrenia. As stated previously, the negative stigma attached to mental illnesses has prevented some people from seeking help. It has also made research limited when it comes to the effect schizophrenia has on families and individuals. As awareness grows thanks to books such as Lowboy and Henry’s Demons, research should gain more popularity hopefully someday leading to actual breakthroughs in both treatment and prevention of mental illness.