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A virtual schizophrenia library has been launched to help patients and their families

Photo: Schizophrenia library to help patients
A virtual library on schizophrenia full of accurate and reliable information is now available to Australians impacted by the mental illness.

The Schizophrenia Library developed by scientists at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) contains 2,000 downloadable fact sheets and evidence reports, as well as videos, podcasts and interviews with leading scientific researchers in the mental health sector.

Topics cover symptoms, treatments, diagnosis, risk factors, outcomes, co-occurring and the physical features of schizophrenia which occurs in about one per cent of the population, with onset usually in late adolescence or early adulthood.

The psychiatric condition is most often a life-long illness that can cause a sufferer to have delusions and hallucinations, but other symptoms include disorganised speech or behaviour, and significant social or occupational dysfunction.
The idea of the schizophrenia library was birthed by Professor Vaughn Carr from Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital who has been a practising psychiatrist for more than 40 years, and was developed by NeuRA scientist Dr Sandy Matheson.

Professor Carr says schizophrenia is one of the most difficult conditions to treat but in the long run one of the most rewarding.

"In spite of the difficulties in the early stages and degrees and distress and suffering that is experienced, we know that with the sound application of good treatment in the context of a very positive therapeutic relationship, good outcomes can occur with some hard work and the correct combination of medications and psychological treatments," he said.

However because of an "explosion" of information on schizophrenia it has been hard to discern what is reliable or accurate.

"There is plenty of information out there, you only have to tap into Google and you'll find a huge array of information about schizophrenia," Prof Carr told AAP.

He says all the information found within the NeuRA library can be trusted because it has gone through "meticulous" analysis.

"The evidence has been sifted in a very systematic and thorough manner so that we can give people some idea as to what is true about schizophrenia," he said.

Prof Carr warns that at first it may cause some people anxiety to learn that they're receiving sub-standard treatment or "missing out" on a better alternative, however, they can be confident of getting the best available therapies through the improved knowledge the library offers.

"We need well-informed people with schizophrenia, well informed families to make accurate appraisals of the quality of treatment they are actually receiving by comparing it to the best-available evidence that is available on this particular website."

A further two virtual libraries are being developed by NeuRA over the next two years for bipolar disorder and dementia.

Sufferers and their families can go to for more information.


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