May 24 Is World Schizophrenia Day — Here’s How You Can Show Support

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated May 8, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Schizophrenia can be defined as a chronic mental illness that usually affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. According to the American Psychiatric Association, it typically affects less than 1% of the U.S. population. Schizophrenia often comes with a significant stigma, and people living with this condition might face relationship challenges, isolation, discrimination, and limited resources and treatment options.

World Schizophrenia Day is observed each year on May 24 to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding this condition. Those looking to participate in the day can engage in educational activities and events to raise public awareness of schizophrenia. Online therapy can be a helpful resource for caretakers and loved ones of those with schizophrenia or other mental health disorders.

Caring for your mental health can empower you to support others

What is schizophrenia?

The word “schizophrenia” was originally coined by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler. Schizophrenia can be considered a serious mental illness that typically affects several aspects of a person’s brain, including how a person thinks. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “people with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality.”  

The condition usually involves instances of psychosis that can include hallucinations, delusions, and trouble with thinking and speech. These symptoms can impact an individual’s ability to participate in work, school, and relationships.

Symptoms of schizophrenia often begin in the late teenage or early adult years and can include the following:

  • Seeing things that aren’t there

  • Hearing voices that don’t exist

  • Experiencing exaggerated or distorted perceptions of reality 

  • Paranoia

  • Disorganized thinking or speech

  • Trouble with logical thinking

  • Unpredictable agitation

  • Lack of motivation

  • Difficulty expressing emotions

  • Trouble with concentration or memory

  • Decreased ability to experience pleasure

Because of the nature and complexity of symptoms, people with schizophrenia often have difficulty maintaining their independence. However, many people with schizophrenia who undergo treatment – usually including doctor-prescribed medication, therapy, or a combination of the two – tend to see significant symptom improvement and live fulfilling, happy lives.

World Schizophrenia Awareness Day 

World Schizophrenia Day, also called World Schizophrenia Awareness Day, was established by the National Schizophrenia Foundation in honor of French physician Dr. Philippe Pinel. 

Pinel was an early advocate for mental health care in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His psychological approach to therapy tended to more closely resemble the type of mental health treatment recommended today, as opposed to the less humane treatments that were normally used during his time.

Today, World Schizophrenia Day is recognized each year on May 24 to educate the public, reduce stigma and discrimination, and spread awareness of this complex and often misunderstood condition. Advocacy organizations may host events that provide information on the condition, fundraise for mental health research studies, and advocate for better resources, support, and treatment options.

Raising awareness about schizophrenia

On World Schizophrenia Day and beyond, you might be inclined to participate in raising awareness for this condition. Whether you live with schizophrenia, know someone who has it, or just want to be a part of this initiative, there may be several ways to help.

Educate yourself

Often, the first step in changing society’s perception of schizophrenia and other mental disorders is tackling your own preconceived notions and any misinformation you may have learned by accident. You might start by performing your own research on the condition, reading scientific journals, peer-reviewed studies, and other reliable sources for accurate mental health information. It can be helpful to be open to learning new things and letting go of anything your research shows to be misguided or inaccurate.


Educate others

Talking with friends, family members, and individuals in your life about the facts surrounding schizophrenia can be helpful in eliminating misconceptions and raising awareness of the difficulties those living with the condition may face. By giving insight into what this condition can mean for a person and showing empathy and understanding, others may follow suit. This domino effect can make a big difference in how people with schizophrenia are treated by employers and other members of the general public.

Wear a silver ribbon

A silver ribbon is often used as a symbol of support for those living with schizophrenia. Wearing one on World Schizophrenia Day and throughout the year can help those living with the condition believe they are supported and accepted. Additionally, it could spark conversations between you and others who may ask about the meaning behind the ribbon. You might use that question as an opportunity to educate others and encourage them to do the same.

Use social media

Social media can be a powerful tool for raising awareness and educating others on mental illnesses, including schizophrenia. Reposting educational videos and other materials can inform others about the condition and clear up any misconceptions. Using and following hashtags like #WorldSchizophreniaDay may connect you with other individuals and organizations looking to raise awareness. In addition, by following pages dedicated to mental health education, you may continue to learn new things.

Attend an event

Organizations may plan virtual or in-person events on World Schizophrenia Day and throughout the year. The goals of these events are often to raise awareness, fundraise for mental health research, or advocate for change within the local or federal government. By participating in events, you can help these organizations further their missions while simultaneously making a positive impact on those living with schizophrenia.

Plan an event

If you can’t find or are unable to attend an event on World Schizophrenia Day, you might consider planning your own event. Local organizations or nonprofits may be able to help you organize an event that meets the needs of your community and your own goals to better the lives of those with schizophrenia. Ideas for events could include educational seminars, fundraisers, runs or walks, or meetings with government officials to advocate for change.


Volunteering can have a direct impact on those living with schizophrenia. Mental health organizations may be able to connect you with individuals, families, or initiatives that could use your help raising funds or bettering the lives of those with schizophrenia. Examples of volunteer opportunities could include directly assisting individuals or families of those with schizophrenia, setting up or cleaning up after events or support groups, or participating in a group meeting with government officials.

Supporting those with schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can be stressful for those who live with the condition and the people around them. If you know someone who has schizophrenia, there may be several ways to support them.

  • Listen to them: People living with schizophrenia may be hesitant to discuss their condition due to the stigma that tends to surround it. Additionally, the condition can make speech difficult or lead to confusing conversations. Actively listening despite those elements can let your loved one know that you care about what they are going through and are there to support them.

  • Validate their feelings: Although schizophrenia may cause delusions or hallucinations, understanding and validating the feelings behind an individual’s experiences – as opposed to disregarding them or arguing about whether what they’re experiencing is real – may be helpful in showing your support. 

  • Practice empathy: Empathy can be defined as the ability to identify, understand, and experience the emotions of others. Showing empathy to someone with schizophrenia, even if you don’t fully understand what they’re going through, can be a way to support them.

  • Ask how you can help: Those living with schizophrenia may be reluctant to ask for help or seek treatment. Additionally, it may not be beneficial to force support in ways that they’re unwilling to accept. Instead, you might ask how you can best support them and be there for them in any way you can.

  • Practice forgiveness: It can be important to remember that schizophrenia can distort a person’s perception of reality, potentially causing fear, anger, stress, and other difficult emotions that those around them may not understand. Symptoms can also make conversation and emotional expression difficult. Reminding yourself that it’s not personal and practicing forgiveness can help you be supportive.

  • Encourage treatment: Encouraging your loved one to seek professional help can support them during their journey to recovery. Additionally, reminding them to take medication as prescribed by a doctor or offering to drive them to appointments may be helpful, as schizophrenia can make organization difficult.

  • Take care of yourself: Schizophrenia can be difficult for everyone involved. As you support your loved one, it can be helpful to remember to also look out for your own mental health. You might recruit others to help you care for your loved one or find time for self-care as needed.

Seeking help as a loved one of someone with schizophrenia

Supporting loved ones living with mental illnesses like schizophrenia can impact your own mental health as well. It may contribute to the development of anxiety, stress, or other conditions. As you care for your loved one, you might consider therapy to manage your own symptoms. A therapist can help you better understand your loved one’s illness, manage emotions related to your supportive duties, and develop strategies to care for your own mental health.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Caring for your mental health can empower you to support others

Benefits of online therapy for mental illness

Depending on your role as a caregiver, it may be difficult to attend regular in-person sessions. Someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty living or functioning independently, and leaving them alone can come with risks. In these cases, online therapy may be a beneficial tool for receiving the mental health care you deserve. With online therapy through platforms like BetterHelp, patients can meet with a therapist from anywhere with an internet connection over video, phone call, or online chat.

Effectiveness of online therapy

Research shows that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy. One study suggests that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) can serve as an effective treatment method for various psychiatric disorders, including depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and panic disorders, among others. Additionally, researchers noted that ICBT can be especially beneficial to those in more rural areas where in-person treatment may not be as available.


World Schizophrenia Day can be an opportunity for society to come together and learn about this complex and often stigmatized mental illness. In recognition of the day, you might engage in educational activities, participate in events, or volunteer to better the lives of those with schizophrenia. You might support someone living with this condition through active listening, empathy, and forgiveness. Depending on your role as a supportive figure in your loved one’s life, you may find in-person or online therapy beneficial for managing your own mental health symptoms, which can make it easier to be there for those you love.

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