This page contains information about schizophrenia, including how it is diagnosed and treated, and schizophrenia support. You may find this helpful if you have schizophrenia or are supporting a whānau member who does.



  • Around 1 in 100 people experience schizophrenia. 


  • Schizophrenia can make it difficult to think clearly, make decisions or plans. 


  • It can be treated with medication, therapy and rehabilitation.


  • Many people with schizophrenia lead fulfilling lives when they get the right treatment and support. 



What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that affects how the brain works. Around 1 person in 100 experiences schizophrenia. 




What causes schizophrenia?


We don’t yet know what causes schizophrenia but these factors can increase your chances of experiencing it:


  • Genetics


  • Brain chemistry


  • Substance abuse


  • Stressful life events


  • Trauma (particularly in childhood)


People with a parent or sibling who has schizophrenia have a higher chance of developing the illness. However, most people with a family member who has schizophrenia, don’t develop it themselves. 



Who experiences schizophrenia?


Schizophrenia occurs in many countries and cultures. It usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood but it can start later in life.


Types and Symptoms


What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?


Some schizophrenia symptoms are called  ‘positive symptoms’ because they are additional experiences that are not usually part of life. Others are called ‘negative symptoms’ because they involve something missing from daily life.


Positive symptoms include:


  • Thought disruption


If you have schizophrenia, you may find difficult to think clearly and make decisions or plans. 


  • Hallucinations 


You may see, taste, smell or feel things that are not there. If you have schizophrenia, you may also hear voices that others don’t hear. 


The voices can be familiar, friendly or critical. They might discuss your thoughts or behaviours or tell you what to do. Understandably, this can be very upsetting for the person hearing voices. 


Hearing voices does not always mean you have schizophrenia. Some research has shown that four per cent of the population hears voices and these voices are not a problem for some people.


  • Delusions or other hallucinations


Delusions are beliefs or experiences that are not shared by others. For example, you might believe you are being pursued by secret agents, or controlled by external forces putting thoughts into your mind. 


Negative symptoms include:


  • Showing no interest or enjoyment in life


  • Feeling emotionally flat


  • Being unable to concentrate


  • Wanting to avoid people


Together, these symptoms can affect your ability to think and feel, and to receive and understand sensory information.



Treatment and Self-Care


Can schizophrenia be treated?

Yes. Schizophrenia is a prolonged but treatable illness. People with schizophrenia can lead fulfilling lives if they get the right treatment and support.

Treatment is often more successful when whānau are actively involved with the healthcare team and the unwell person. 


How is schizophrenia treated?

Schizophrenia can be managed with medication, psychological treatment and rehabilitation. Antipsychotics are the main type of medication used in schizophrenia treatment.


Social rehabilitation is important when treating schizophrenia and helps the affected person to participate in their community. 


Vocational rehabilitation can help people with schizophrenia discover activities they find meaningful and enjoyable. This helps build their confidence and realise their strengths.


The long-term goal of all rehabilitation is to help people with schizophrenia learn how to manage their symptoms, gain confidence in their ability to do so, and live their lives to the full.


    Whānau Support

    How can I support someone who has schizophrenia?


    People with schizophrenia benefit when their whānau and friends are well supported, understand the illness and know how they can help. 

    If you are supporting a whānau member who has schizophrenia, please contact your family doctor and your local Yellow Brick Road office.  We are here to help you.

    When supporting someone with schizophrenia, it is important to take care of yourself as well.


    Our self-care and mindfulness guides contain ways to help improve your wellbeing whilst supporting a loved one experiencing mental health challenges.

    How Yellow Brick Road can help you


    Every day we set out to ensure whānau feel listened to, supported, equipped and ultimately confident to overcome the challenges they face.

    If you are concerned about a whānau member, our whānau support workers can help you by providing support, information, education and  advocacy services, such as:


    • Listening to your concerns and questions


    • Helping you create an action plan that supports you and your loved one throughout their recovery journey


    • Providing books, articles and information about locally available services


    • Support groups 


    Our services are free and confidential. Contact us today to find out more.

    Useful schizophrenia websites

    Health Navigator

    The Health Navigator NZ website contains information about schizophrenia, including self-care resources and treatment options:


    Mental Health Foundation NZ

    The Mental Health Foundation NZ has information and guides to help you understand schizophrenia:

    Who can I contact for counselling image

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