“Fury at escape of schizo killer!” blares The Sun, showing their usual degree of sensitivity and caring towards people with mental health problems.

I think it’s best to quote Time to Change and Rethink’s words on this. “Whilst this is a news story and The Sun can legitimately report the event and the comments of those involved Rethink does not think using the word schizo is acceptable.”

The Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice, point 12 i) states; The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability. However, they do not seem to think that using the derogatory term “schizo” to refer to schizophrenia is “prejudicial or pejorative”.

Rethink suggests we let the PCC and The Sun know what we think about this, and makes the following points.

• Whilst I understand that The Sun serves to inform readers of news events using the word schizo in the headline is unacceptable. It does nothing to add to the information and simply reduces a complex condition to a derogatory taunt

• There are over 600 thousand people with schizophrenia in the UK, the vast majority are law-abiding citizens. Using the word schizo in the headline only serves to increase the fear and prejudice that exists towards people with schizophrenia and their families

• I do not accept that “schizo” is an acceptable shortening of schizophrenia or schizophrenic, these are medical terms whilst “schizo” is nothing more than an ugly taunt

• It would not be acceptable to shorten lesbian to “lesbo” or refer to gay men as “homos”, nor would it be acceptable to refer to quadriplegics as “cripples”.

Please see their post for addresses to write to and further tips.

This has nothing to do with benefits, but it’s about the way the media constantly reinforces damaging stereotypes about the mentally ill. The Press Complaints Commission seems to think that “schizo” is acceptable language, but charities and professionals who work with people with mental illness, and of course those with the conditions themselves, strongly disagree.

Schizophrenia is a serious condition, and a nightmare to suffer from. Shame on the PCC for letting the tabloids get away with making the stigma and prejudice about it even worse.

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