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Burton High Stories: Schizophrenia

Jasmine Gomez, a senior at Burton High School
Jasmine Gomez, a senior at Burton High School

Students studying health sciences at Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School in San Francisco worked with KALW radio to share their perspectives on health issues and solutions. Jasmine Gomez, a senior at Burton High School, wants to spread awareness about schizophrenia and make sure people are better informed about mental health.

Hi, I’m Jasmine Gomez, a senior at Burton High School, and my capstone topic is spreading awareness about schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, and behavior because they are out of touch with reality. Due to stigma, many people are incorrectly informed about mental health.

In the past, people thought of those with variations in mental health as being possessed by an evil spirit. To this day it is still associated with negative opinions. I would like to live in a world where this is not considered a problem, rather it is accepted.

A close friend of mine, tells me how having a family member with schizophrenia has impacted his life. He asked me to spread awareness about it because it can be a sensitive topic to talk about.

Schizophrenia and other disorders like depression, bipolar, and anxiety have increased in rates due to the pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, “The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide” it says, “Loneliness, fear of infection, suffering and death for oneself and for loved ones, grief after bereavement and financial worries have also all been cited as stressors leading to anxiety and depression.” It is also important to consider the spike in mental health needs has coincided with severe disruptions to mental health services, leaving huge gaps in care for those who need it most. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, 40% of the population diagnosed with schizophrenia have been left untreated which worries me. The pandemic has raised many concerns because while COVID-19 has been the primary health issue, other health problems have been overlooked.

In the article, “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on patients with schizophrenia” written by Antonio Vitaa and Stefano Barlatia, and published in the National Institutes of Health, describes how the pandemic has raised concerns about the increase of mental disorders. It also had a huge impact of anxiety and loneliness on people with schizophrenia due to the isolation of the pandemic.

I believe that as a community we can do more to educate people who are unaware of how to support people with mental health disorders like schizophrenia. Assuring them what things are happening in reality and by getting them the treatment they need. We want them to feel like they’re human too. If the COVID pandemic has taught me one thing it is that it has shown the glaring inequities of our healthcare system. It is my hope that we can learn how to help everyone in need when the healthcare system has left us disappointed.