Events press releases


Mental health professionals asked to contribute their views to wide-ranging commission on schizophrenia and psychosis

Mental health professionals (GPs/nurses) are being asked to contribute to one of the largest ever reviews of the state of care for people affected by schizophrenia and psychosis and encourage their patients to do the same.


Over 2,000 people have already submitted evidence to the independent commission, set up by the charity Rethink Mental Illness, but the commissioners are still keen to hear from as many people as possible before they begin considering the evidence in four months time.


The commissioners are appealing for health professionals to submit their views via an online survey on the commission website (1) and to also encourage patients who are directly affected by schizophrenia and psychosis to do so too.


The Schizophrenia Commission, which launched in November 2011, is seeking views on a range of issues including:


  • The current state of care, support and quality of life for individuals with schizophrenia and their families


  • The economic and other societal impact of the schizophrenia


  • Public attitudes to the condition and how these impact on outcomes experienced by individuals with schizophrenia and their families


Commission member Jonathan Phillips, former Director of Adult Social Services at Calderdale Council, says the evidence they’ve heard so far, suggests a gap between national guidance and the reality of care on the front line.


He said: “Of most concern is the gap between the aspiration and the reality of most people’s experience of being on the receiving end of services, either as carers or those who use services. A consensus opinion from audience members in all evidence gathering sessions so far is that the treatment and support for people experiencing psychotic symptoms needs vast improvement.”


So far, the twelve commissioners, including Claire Gerada, President of the Royal College of GPs and Jeremy Lawrence, Health Editor at The Independent, have held two public evidence gathering sessions in London and Manchester.


After a service user consultation, the commissioners will consider all the evidence from July and plan to report key findings and recommendations in September 2012.





Local people affected by schizophrenia speak out for change

People who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and their carers gathered at a groundbreaking event earlier this week to lobby for better care for what they term the ‘forgotten illness’.

The newly formed Schizophrenia Commission (a panel of people whose expertise covers psychiatry, health journalism, health service commissioning and personal and family experience of schizophrenia) visited Manchester to hear the views of local people.

National mental health charity, Rethink Mental Illness, set up the independent commission which has been gathering evidence from across the country on the current state of care and support for people affected by schizophrenia. The University of Manchester hosted the commission this week and more than 80 people affected by the illness came to share their experiences.

Anthony Scally, 46, from Wythenshawe was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1990 and has since written a book on his experience. “The fact that an event like this has even come to Manchester, asking for the views of local people, shows progress. Twenty years ago people with schizophrenia were locked up and very little about the illness was understood. Some of the stories we hear about care for people with mental illness are not acceptable. If we heard the same kind of stories about someone with another illness like cancer or heart disease there would be uproar.

“There’s still a long way to go but I wanted to share my story today so that improvements in care can be made and others don’t have to feel alone with what they’re going through,” said Anthony.

The commission also heard from local psychiatrists and researchers from the University of Manchester on how GPs need to become more involved in care for people with mental illness, and different treatments including medication and psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

Dr Catherine Cole, a Wythenshawe-based psychiatrist for Manchester Mental Health and Social Care NHS Trust, said: ““I tried to emphasise to the Commission that the essence of what we do has to do with relationships; providing continuity of care for the individual with schizophrenia, support for their carers, and forging links with local GPs and other agencies with whom the person might come into contact. Within our Trust we are working hard to develop these relationships and to provide an individualised approach to the care we offer”.

Mental health professionals, individuals and organisations are being asked to contribute to the commission via online surveys at

Over the next four months the commission will hear evidence in public across England from medical professionals, economists, policy makers, people with schizophrenia and their families.

The commission members include Claire Gerada, President of the Royal College of GPs, and Professor Sir Robin Murray (Chair) Professor of Psychiatric Research at Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London. Key findings and recommendations will be published in September 2012.


For more information call Lucy Ing, senior media relations officer at Rethink Mental Illness, on 0161 226 4488/07918 617302 or email



Psychiatrists need to get better at prescribing, schizophrenia commission told

A leading psychiatrist has said her profession ‘could do better’ when it comes to prescribing medication for people with schizophrenia. 

Dr Shubulade Smith was responding to a question from an audience member, whist taking part in an independent commission on schizophrenia, set up by the charity Rethink Mental Illness.

The debate was sparked by Dr Diana Rose, who carries out research from a service user perspective at the Institute of Psychiatry.

While giving evidence, Dr Rose expressed surprise that none of her fellow academics had raised the subject of medication. She told the commissioners that in her experience, medication is by far the most pressing issue for people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

She said: “Medication has come up in virtually every focus group or interview I have done for the last ten years. In one of our early groups, we started the session off with a warm-up question about people’s experiences of antipsychotics. We never got past the warm-up question.”

Dr Rose criticised mental health professionals for referring to ‘side-effects’ of medication, arguing they should simply be termed ‘effects’ due to their severity.

Her comments were backed up by members of the audience and other speakers, several of whom shared stories such as being left on the wrong medication for years without review or feeling like their psychiatrist wasn’t listening to their views.

Dr Smith, who is on the commission panel, commented that the real problem is not medication itself, but how it is prescribed. She conceded that historically, there has sometimes been a tendency to over-medicate, and that psychiatrists need to improve in this area.

Dr Rose was among ten people giving evidence at the commission’s first public evidence gathering session at The Imperial War Museum on Tuesday (10th January). Speakers included people with lived experience of schizophrenia, family members and academics.

Prof Sir Robin Murray, chair of the commission said: “The first evidence session got the commission off to a great start. We heard some incredibly powerful and moving stories from people who have schizophrenia and their families. There were some positive stories of recovery but also heart-breaking accounts of people being written off and effectively left in care homes to rot. It really brought home why this commission is so urgently needed.”

Mental health professionals, individuals and organisations are being asked to contribute to the commission via online surveys at

Over the next six months the commission will hear evidence in public across England from medical professionals, economists, policy-makers, people with schizophrenia and their families.

The commission members include Claire Gerada, President of the Royal College of GPs and Liz Meek, Chair of independent think tank, the Centre for London and mental health carer. Key findings and recommendations will be published in September 2012.


For more information, please contact Rachel Whitehead, Senior media relations officer for Rethink Mental Illness tel: 0207 840 3138 mob: 07711805726

Information on our commissioners is available.