Letters “Schizophrenia” does not exist

Rebranding schizophrenia is unlikely to reduce stigma

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i1043 (Published 23 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1043
  1. Ian Hamilton, lecturer in mental health
  1. A1 Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
  1. ian.hamilton{at}york.ac.uk

Van Os highlights some important points about how we label an individual’s behaviour and symptoms.1 Although this rightly raises debate about what we call something, we shouldn’t delude ourselves that a change in name will reduce stigma. In some ways it is a distraction from the real problems that people with mental health problems face, such as getting support and evidence based treatment in a timely and person centred way.

We can keep renaming schizophrenia until we feel it adequately reflects what we are trying to describe, but I’m not sure how much the rebranding of a mental health problem will reduce stigma.

Van Os’s arguments serve as a useful and humbling reminder of how little we still know about some of the most severe mental health problems that people experience, whatever we want to call them.


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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