The BC Schizophrenia Society Calls on British Columbians to #StandAgainstStigma this National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day

Published May 24, 2024

Campaign launches to address stigma as new figures suggest that approximately 1 in 55 people in Canada are affected by schizophrenia

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 24, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The British Columbia Schizophrenia Society (BCSS), a provincial non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by schizophrenia and severe and persistent mental illness, is marking National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day (May 24) with the launch of #StandAgainstStigma, a campaign to address misconceptions and stigma surrounding schizophrenia through education.

"For far too long, schizophrenia has been shrouded with misconceptions and stigma, leading to profound misunderstandings about the illness and those living with it," says Faydra Aldridge, CEO of the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society. "With the launch of our campaign, we’re determined to challenge stereotypes that have unfairly burdened individuals, families and caregivers to foster a society where schizophrenia is met with hope instead of shame and discrimination.”

Schizophrenia and other severe and persistent mental illnesses can impact anyone - they do not discriminate. While the prevalence of schizophrenia is often reported as 1%, the BCSS released a paper1 (based on Canadian and international studies) outlining a recommendation to adopt 1.8% as the schizophrenia prevalence rate in Canada, with the understanding that it could be higher. Undiagnosed schizophrenia and underreporting are prevalent due to widespread stigma, narrow definitions of severe and persistent mental illness, and the exclusion of certain populations.

“While we’ve come a long way in how we talk about brain illnesses, such as schizophrenia, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and bipolar disorder, we still have a long way to go,” says Faydra Aldridge, CEO of BCSS. “Through education and awareness, we hope to foster a more compassionate and supportive society for all those affected by severe and persistent mental illness and their family members.

While there is no ‘cure’ for schizophrenia, with timely and appropriate treatment and care, people with schizophrenia can have improved symptoms and lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives, employment and relationships. Despite this, only 15% of Canadians with schizophrenia are employed, with stigma and lack of support or access to appropriate treatment being the largest contributors.

National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day has become an impactful day for our family, as it helps to create awareness and start conversations about serious mental illness,” says Suzie Warneke who has a family member with schizophrenia. “Walking alongside someone who lives with a mental illness can be frightening, lonely, uncertain and hopeless, but when a caring, safe and supportive community can be found all those feelings can be changed. Knowing that you are not walking this journey alone is a crucial part of experiencing hope for everyone involved. BCSS has provided our family with a safe and caring place to be educated, find support and even provide spaces for us to share our story with others to help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and provide hope to others who may be on a similar journey. Today our family will be wearing purple and ready to share our story with others as we seek to reduce stigma and increase knowledge.”

In honour of National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day on May 24th, landmarks throughout British Columbia are set to illuminate in purple. This symbolic act highlights the province's dedication to mental wellness and its continued support for individuals and families dealing with schizophrenia and severe and persistent mental illness.

By embracing the #LightUpInPurple movement and sharing pictures on social media, we can strengthen and promote understanding while breaking the stigma associated with schizophrenia, psychosis, and other serious and persistent mental illnesses.

On Friday, May 24th, keep an eye out for these landmarks, and more that are lighting up in purple:

  • BC Place (Vancouver, BC)
  • Bloedel Conservatory (Vancouver, BC)
  • New West City Hall (New Westminster, BC)
  • Vancouver Convention Centre (Vancouver, BC)
  • BC Legislature (Victoria, BC)
  • Vancouver City Hall and Burrard Street Bridge (Vancouver, BC)
  • Surrey Civic Plaza (Surrey, BC)
  • Science World (Vancouver, BC)
  • Victoria Street Bridge (Trail, BC)
  • Columbia River Skywalk Bridge (Trail, BC)
  • White Rock Pier (White Rock, BC)
  • Kelowna General Hospital (Kelowna, BC)
  • World’s Largest Hockey Stick (Duncan, BC) 

Let's come together to build a more compassionate and inclusive society and ensure everyone receives the care and understanding they deserve. BCSS encourages everyone across the province to snap a photo of these landmarks on that day and share it on social media with the tag #LightItUpPurple and #StandAgainstStigma.

In addition to lighting up landmarks, we are pleased to share that BCSS will screen the documentary 'Insanity: The Mental Health Crisis' by director, Wendy Hill-Tout, and host a panel discussion recognizing National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day on Saturday, May 25, 2024. This event will take place at the Rio Theatre from 12:00 to 2:15 pm. To learn more about this event and get tickets, please click here.

For more information about the BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS), severe and persistent mental illnesses and psychosis, National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day and/or information on how to donate to support BCSS’ programs and services, visit You can find the media kit here.

ABOUT BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS)
The British Columbia Schizophrenia Society is a non-profit organization founded in 1982 by families and friends of people living with schizophrenia. Since then, BCSS has grown into a province-wide family support system.

BCSS provides vital front-line education and support for families across British Columbia impacted by schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and other severe and persistent mental illnesses. BCSS is dedicated to increasing awareness and advocating for additional and more effective services for people with these brain illnesses and their family members.

BCSS Mission
To support families affected by schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses in British Columbia through education, advocacy, and research.

BCSS Vision
A province where those affected by schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses receive effective treatment and support, and family members are an essential partner within the mental health system.


Yulu PR
Alicia Arruda,

BC Schizophrenia Society
Alex Wyatt,

1 Prevalence paper: