Schizophrenia: Digital Technology Defies Stigma, Supports Recovery

Apr 15 2016

ARLINGTON, Va., April 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has released the results of a survey showing that people living with schizophrenia use digital technology generally as much as the rest of the population—and in ways that help them cope with the effects of their condition.

The survey is also analyzed in the latest issue of JMIR Mental Health in the article "Digital Technology Use Among Individuals with Schizophrenia: Results from a NAMI Survey." The authors include NAMI's National Director of Communications and Public Affairs Katrina Gay, NAMI Medical Director Ken Duckworth and former NAMI National Board President Anand Pandya, M.D.

See NAMI survey page, including a power point presentation and a link to the JMIR article (requires website registration). The article citation is JMIR Mental Health 2016;3(2):e15.

The study is the largest to date looking at ownership and use of technology among individuals living with schizophrenia

  • 90% of the individuals surveyed owned more than one digital device such as a personal computer, tablet or smartphone.
  • 54% had access to smartphones compared to 64% of all Americans.

Many of the respondents use their devices to cope with mental illness

  • 42% by blocking or managing auditory hallucinations with music or audio files
  • 38% for health information on the Internet
  • 37% for calendar reminders
  • 32% for transportation and map needs
  • 28% for medication management
  • 26% for supporting others
  • 26% for developing relationships with other persons with schizophrenia
  • 25% for monitoring symptoms
  • 24% for identifying coping strategies.

The results run counter to stereotypes and stigma surrounding people living with schizophrenia.

"Individuals living with schizophrenia may face a double stigma when using digital devices," the study notes. "Beyond the stigma often associated with schizophrenia itself, there may be bias that those living with schizophrenia do not own, cannot use, are not interested in, or will become more paranoid and agitated when using technologies like mobile phones."

The survey was conducted online, Aug. 25 to Sept. 8, 2014, and involved 457 respondents.

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that interferes with a person's ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It may include visual or auditory hallucinations and delusional beliefs. It affects about 1% of Americans. The average age of onset is in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women.

About NAMI

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

www.nami.org 
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SOURCE National Alliance on Mental Illness