– The label of schizophrenia attracts a high level of stigma; consequently, people with schizophrenia are victims of unfair treatment and have limited access to decent livelihood and basic opportunities. However, most studies on stigma have overlooked the experiences of patients with schizophrenia. The purpose of this paper is to assess the experience of discrimination by patients with schizophrenia in Lagos, Nigeria.
– A descriptive cross-sectional study. Out-patients with schizophrenia (n=150) were interviewed with the Discrimination and Stigma Scale (DISC 12) at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria.
– The majority of the respondents (86.7 per cent) had been avoided by people who knew they had schizophrenia. Unfair treatment was experienced by 71.3 per cent from family members, 62.7 per cent from friends, 32 per cent in social life and 28.7 per cent in intimate relationships, and 38.7 per cent in personal safety. The most commonly reported unfair treatment was inappropriate physical restraint (e.g. chains and ropes) applied by family members and beating. About eight out of ten (79.3 per cent) respondents concealed their illness.
– The findings indicate that people with schizophrenia in Nigeria experience high levels of discrimination, some of which contravenes their basic human rights. The unfair treatment experienced within the family context excludes people with schizophrenia from engaging in basic social relationships, education and the pursuit of life opportunities. Legislations should be reviewed to protect patients from unfair treatment and violation of their human rights. There is also need to equip them with strategies to cope with stigma.