Page last updated at 00:05 GMT, Monday, 21 July 2008 01:05 UK

'Being rejected doesn't get easier'

Stuart Baker-Brown
Stuart considers himself recovered
A survey has revealed that many people with mental problems in England face everyday discrimination - usually from those who know them best - family, friends, and employers.

Stuart Baker-Brown, from Dorset, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1996, and says he has found little support ever since.

In the wake of a visit to Moscow in 1991, Stuart Baker-Brown got the feeling he was being followed around the streets of London.

"I was concerned for my life, feeling anxious and depressed," he said. "I started getting very paranoid."

However, those early symptoms of schizophrenia did not turn into a diagnosis for four years.

People think you are liable to lose it and may become violent
Stuart Baker-Brown

The initial reactions from his immediate family shocked him: "They didn't know what to do, so they just ran away.

"I haven't really seen any of them for several years."

Only a tiny percentage of people with schizophrenia are violent, despite the public image and some media portrayals of the condition, and Stuart insists he was never in a condition in which he could have hurt anyone.

He now considers himself "recovered", with no schizophrenia symptoms for some years - but that has not stopped the condition affecting his life.

No work

"I am actually proud of my schizophrenia - the only threat I have from it now is stigma and discrimination.

"People's attitudes towards me hold me back.

"I don't feel as if anyone would offer me any good work because of my past diagnosis - people think you are liable to lose it and may become violent."

He said that relationships, both with friends and possible partners, are far more difficult.

It stops me pursuing relationships because I think I might be rejected
Stuart Baker-Brown

"There are examples of times where I have opened up to people I've met about my diagnosis and they just back off.

"It stops me pursuing relationships because I think I might be rejected. The pain of rejection doesn't get any easier if you've been through it a few times before."

Twelve years after being diagnosed, he can see no improvement in the level of stigma and discrimination he faces.

"It's just a lack of understanding of somebody else, a fear of somebody else you don't understand."



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