Mental health


What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder, characterized by profound disruptions in thinking, affecting language, perception, and the sense of self. It often includes psychotic experiences, such as hearing voices or delusions. It can impair functioning through the loss of an acquired capability to earn a livelihood, or the disruption of studies.

Schizophrenia typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. There are effective treatments for schizophrenia and people affected by it can lead a productive life and be integrated in society.


  • Schizophrenia affects more than 21 million people worldwide.
  • It is a treatable disorder.
  • One in two people living with schizophrenia does not receive care for the condition.
  • Care of persons with schizophrenia can be provided at community level, with active family and community involvement.

Pilot programmes in a few developing countries such as Guinea-Bissau, India, Iran, Pakistan and the United Republic of Tanzania, have demonstrated the feasibility of providing care to people with severe mental illness through the primary health-care system by:

  • appropriate training of the primary health care personnel;
  • provision of essential medicines;
  • strengthening of the families for home care;
  • professionals to provide support to peripheral levels, including referrals.
  • public education to decrease stigma and discrimination.