Schizophrenia: Why the Medical Field Should Reflect


Erika Yang, Contributor

It has become an all-too familiar story: A college student went to his previous professor’s class and shouted at him, accusing his professor of stealing tuition money and talking about how college is an organized crime. His family often found him mumbling to himself and fighting with an “invisible” person. The college student was brought to a psychologist by his family and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia 

Schizophrenia is a severe psychological and neurological disease usually accompanied by highly disordered thoughts. It is prevalent in young adults 20-30 years old. Symptoms of schizophrenia are wide-ranging, including chaotic logic, delusions (e.g. imagining themselves as Jesus), hallucinations (hearing voices and seeing objects that are not there), lack of emotions, involuntary body movements, and cognitive problems. Although advancing science and technology has made Schizophrenia treatable, the medical field needs to prioritize enhancing patients’ life quality and reducing their social costs based on the following reasons.

The difficulty of managing schizophrenia is the enormous disruption of patients’ normal lives, such as jobs and social relationships. Unable to interact with others leads to communication problems, patients are kept away from employment and other economic opportunities. Consequently, poverty or individual financial crisis can easily emerge, which may in another way affect patients’ recovery sessions. Since no pharmaceutical treatments can completely cure schizophrenia, medical providers should focus on aspects of patients lives that go beyond the scope of physiological problems. 

Schizophrenia patients under family’s care are more prepared for sessions with psychiatrists. They show an increase in willingness in regularly getting medications, which reflects the role of all-sided support in aiding patients’ own free will to receive treatment. Therefore, a loving and caring environment can not only increase patients’ positive state of mind, but also advance the medication routine. 

The number of active psychiatrists in the United States decreased from 1 per 7,825 people to 1 per 8,476 people. But this problem is not likely to be readily resolved because expanding training slots for new arrivals entails long time lags and high costs. In addition, urban, suburban and rural areas have significantly disproportionate numbers of psychiatrists and psychologists. For example, the number of psychologists varies almost tenfold from 7.9 per 100,000 people in Mississippi to 76.0 per 100,000 in Massachusetts (Olfson). How to expand general capacity of mental health care workers and to address the allocation of them into underserved areas are essential in improving the nation’s mental health services.