News & Events News & Announcements 2014 This Is Why: social media campaign highlights personal stories of schizophrenia

This Is Why: social media campaign highlights personal stories of schizophrenia

To coincide with National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day (NSPAD), SSO took to social media throughout the month of May to raise awareness about schizophrenia through its This is Why initiative. This Is Why incorporated the faces and stories of the individuals, families and communities affected by schizophrenia, an illness affecting 1 in 100 people in Canada.
Every week throughout the month of May, SSO’s website, Twitter and Facebook feeds featured a story about a person living with schizophrenia.

“People living with schizophrenia experience many barriers, due in part to the stigma and misconceptions surrounding the illness,” said Mary Alberti, CEO of SSO. For the campaign, we chose to counter this by telling the stories of real people who live with schizophrenia every day.
People like Marie Asuncion.

Just before she turned 16, Marie Asuncion began feeling that things weren’t quite right. She was experiencing paranoia, feeling anxious and hearing voices. 
Not sure what was happening, she just tried to  ignore it. After several weeks of ongoing symptoms, Marie had a full-blown episode of psychosis. Marie was immediately admitted to hospital and received the treatment and support she needed.

“When it happened, I remember locking myself in my room with my family on the other side of the door trying to get to me,” Marie recalled. “My family was my biggest support and together we learned to live with this illness. I have come a long way since then and I’m in a good place now.”

Today, Marie is a language teacher, accomplished musician, and mental health advocate.

As an SSO spokesperson Marie shared her story so that more young people are aware of the illness and don’t wait to seek help.
“Part of what I do to help others is to share my story — I want to let other young people know that just because you have schizophrenia, it doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish everything you want,” said Marie. “The This is Why campaign tells the story of real people, like me, and can give young people hope. If I had known more about the illness, maybe I would have been able to seek help when my symptoms first started.”
Three other individuals also shared their stories for the campaign. Jesse Bigelow, a long time supporter and SSO volunteer, Christine Walter, a mental health writer and advocate who is part of SSO’s Speaker’s  Bureau, and Chris Whittaker, who has long served on SSO’s Peace of Minds Walk Committee. The campaign received a significant and enthusiastic response from the public with nearly 800+ page views on our website and nearly 2000 views on Facebook.
Our This Is Why campaign for NSPAD culminated in SSO’s 21st annual Peace of Minds Walk for Schizophrenia. Families, friends and supporters came together in communities across Ontario to rally for support and awareness while raising funds to help us providecounseling and systems navigation support along with education and advocacy.

You can read archived stories from This Is Why here

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Media contact: Alexander Ross, Communications Officer, Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, 416 449 6830 x 257

The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of people, families and communities affected by schizophrenia and psychotic illnesses. The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario is a province-wide charitable organization that was founded in 1979 by Bill and Dorothy Jefferies in an attempt to build awareness about serious mental illnesses and to support families and individuals living with these illnesses.

Today, the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario provides a range of support services; education initiatives; awareness, information and knowledge building programs; advocacy; youth-oriented programming and a diverse research program with both funded independent studies and in-house research; all geared to breaking down stigma and improving the quality of life for individuals who are living with schizophrenia and psychosis and their families and caregivers.