Schizophrenia Awareness Week

Rethink Mental Illness has created a touching video that cleverly drives home a powerful message

Schizophrenia sufferer Andrew Voyce is one of four people featured in the film
Schizophrenia sufferer Andrew Voyce is one of four people featured in the film

What is it?

Rethink Mental Illness created a three-minute film to publicise Schizophrenia Awareness Week (5 to 10 October), an integrated awareness-raising, fundraising and engagement campaign to draw attention to the need for better funding for mental health services, and to break down some of the commonly held misconceptions about schizophrenia.

The video – produced by Acme at a cost of £4,500 – shows four people with schizophrenia who have make-up designs on their faces that represent how they feel about their illness. One has the word "nutter" written across his forehead because he feels the media often portrays schizophrenia in a stigmatised light. Another has a simple white design because she feels her illness makes her invisible to society.

Each person explains the reason behind their choice of make-up while gradually removing it to reveal the "true face of schizophrenia". The aim is to highlight the fact that the condition can affect anyone and how important it is to get the right care.

How successful has it been?

The film has had more than 43,000 views on YouTube since being posted on 5 October and has gained exposure on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mirror Online, Daily Star Online, Metro Online and Buzzfeed, among others. This has translated to 11,500 visits to the campaign’s page at The campaign asked people to donate and to join the campaign, and called on clinical commissioning groups to give mental health services fair funding. As a result, more than 800 actions have been taken, with donations at £8,476.70 and counting.

What the charity says

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: "Schizophrenia affects one in 100 ordinary people like you and I. It’s not a rare illness at all and what’s often misunderstood is that people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and psychosis can lead normal lives if they get the right support. But as our survey shows, far too many people are not getting that, and that’s having a very real and devastating impact on the day-to-day things most of us take for granted. Work, studying, relationships, a social life, keeping fit and healthy – everyone has a right to live the lives they want to lead, so why are so many with schizophrenia telling us they feel rejected from society, isolated and having to fight battle after battle to get the right support? 

"Mental health services are underfunded and overstretched, and this is resulting in people spiralling deep into a world where they feel they can’t lead anything close to a normal life. 

"We want England, by 2020, to have a mental health care system that is fairly funded according to local and national need, delivering high-quality mental healthcare, at the time and place that people need it."

Third Sector’s verdict

This affecting film employs the removal of disguises as a metaphor for emerging from behind the public perception of the subjects’ condition. Using this simple device, the message is conveyed so clearly that the viewer understands it without even needing to hear the soundtrack. But that is worth hearing in itself as the four brave people reveal shocking facts about their experiences ("I spent years in asylums not getting the right help") over music that begins sombrely but swells in an emotionally uplifting way. The film ends on a satisfying and touching note as each of the case studies reveals that they have reached better places in their lives, explaining how they got there and giving hope to other sufferers. But, most importantly, it gives potential donors a reason to give.

The film can be viewed here.

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