Students With Schizophrenia (SWS) empowers students who have schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder worldwide and their families through support, outreach, and services. SWS is currently helping students directly by founding college clubs, holding outreach events, resource directing, actively engaging on social media, offering career building services through our innovative online internship programs, and unifying the global psychosis community through our Advocacy Board.
SWS publicly launched as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in August of 2018. In 2017, this movement was sparked from the popularity of our TEDxPSU talk “I Am Not A Monster: Schizophrenia” with over 3 million views on YouTube and also our Special Books By Special Kids interview with over 12 million views on Facebook and over 4 million views on YouTube. It has been important from the start that this organization was not only formed for people with schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder but also by people who have schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder. Throughout the ideation and prototyping phases during pre-launch, we held global online volunteer conferences where hundreds of individuals from across the globe from the diverse community of people with psychosis attended and had their voices heard and were a part of the formation of SWS. Currently, we still maintain a strong global engagement through our board members, online programs, and social media representation globally with 53 countries from across 6 continents actively engaged. Our top five countries engaged outside of the United States include Canada, India, Brazil, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Together, we can change the face of schizophrenia.
1.1% of the world’s population over the age of eighteen has some sort of form of schizophrenia with one out of ten people who have schizophrenia taking their own lives and another four out of ten attempting suicide at least once. SWS is the first nonprofit specifically focused on empowering college students who have schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder worldwide even though the peak age to have a schizophrenic break is in early adulthood, the same age range as the typical college student. More generalized mental health initiatives/organizations have made monumental strides towards destigmatizing mental health as a whole; however, we still have a long way to go when it comes to destimatizing often shied away from positive psychosis symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and scattered thoughts. SWS is here to have those difficult conversations and will not shy away from these important topics for our students on college campuses. We need to make sure that the full spectrum of mental health conditions is being represented, supported, and empowered.
From an economic standpoint, The National Library of Medicine “estimated the 2002 economic burden of schizophrenia at $62.7 billion: 35% for direct health care costs, 15% for direct non–health care costs, and 50% for indirect costs.” The peak age to have a schizophrenic break is early adulthood, which is the same age range as the typical college student and also one of the most pivotal times influencing a person’s economic projection in society. More importantly, there is no other organization currently focused on specifically empowering college students who have schizophrenia by keeping them in school and connecting them with future employers and mentors. The National Education Association reports that “47% of adults living with schizophrenia drop out of college.” This drastically limits the career options of a person who has schizophrenia and their financial contribution to society with unemployment rates varying but seen as high as 39% reported in the Schizophrenia Bulletin.