For many, the term 'schizophrenia' conjures images of someone with a 'split personality'. Further, shocking news headlines sometimes serve to reinforce negative stereotypes and misunderstandings about severe mental illness. It is important to stress here that schizophrenia is an illness that can be very debilitating and often strikes young people during the late teens and early 20s.
One in 100 people (1 per cent of the population) will experience schizophrenia before the age of 45. Students with a diagnosis of schizophrenia can succeed at their studies and, similarly to students with other disabilities, may require assistance to make their studying a successful experience.
This chapter opens with a vignette, and subsequently offers a basic introduction to the illness, its stigma, potential obstacles faced by students, coursework flexibility, and the importance of understanding that we all have mental health, as well as emphasizing the role universities can play in promoting mental health awareness and tackling discrimination. The chapter is not meant as a 'crisis' guide.
Before we get into the chapter proper I would like to introduce a vignette. The vignette is based on an actual situation that arose while I was working for the Rethink: Severe Mental Illness 'Advice Service' (formerly NSF, the National Schizophrenia Fellowship) as part of a student aware-