People living with psychotic illness 2010

Isolation, support and satisfaction with life

Page last updated: November 2011

People with psychotic illness are often isolated by the symptoms of their illness and this isolation can be exacerbated by multiple episodes of illness, periods of hospitalisation and stigma and discrimination that make maintenance of family and social contacts more difficult.

Over half (57.2%) of people with a psychotic illness reported experiencing a distressing or traumatic event in childhood, with 16.1% reporting being sexually abused.

Nearly one quarter (22.4%) of people reported feeling socially isolated and lonely.

  • Two thirds (69.3%) said their illness made it difficult to maintain close relationships.
Almost one third (31.0%) of people reported they lived alone, however, 40.6% of reported they would prefer to be living with someone else.

Most people (96.1%) had some contact with a family member over the last year. For many (65.4%) this was daily and another 18.2% had weekly contact (figure 23).

The majority of people had at least one friend (86.5%), however, 13.3% had no friends at all, 14.1% had no one they could rely on and 15.4% had never had a confiding relationship.

Two thirds (68.6%) had not attended any social programs and a similar proportion (69.4%) had not attended any recreational activities.

Support, needs and satisfaction

Just over half (56.4%) of people with psychotic illness reported receiving no or minimal support from any source.

One quarter (24.5%) of people had a carer. For 40.8% of these people, this was their mother, for 25.7% it was a partner and for 5.4% it was their child.

Half (50.6%) received some help with domestic responsibilities. Almost all (94.5%) who received this assistance found it to be very or somewhat helpful, with 35.1% noting it would be difficult to maintain their responsibilities without this help.

About half (55.5%) identified unmet needs in relation to their treatment. Almost one third (30.5%) reported the need for assistance in other areas of their lives including, but not limited to, housing, finances, employment, legal assistance and practical assistance.

Seven out of ten (71.9%) people were satisfied with their independence in the past four weeks.

Financial matters, social isolation and lack of employment were noted as the biggest challenges over the next 12 months (figure 24). These were the same top three challenges noted by general practitioners they visited.

In spite of the difficulties facing them, 77.4% of people believed their circumstances would improve over the coming year. Top of page

Figure 23: Contact with others and other social events

Refer to the following list for a text equivalent of figure 23: contact with others and other social events
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Text version of figure 23

Contact with others and other social events:
  • Did not attend any recreational programs, past year - 69.4%
  • Did not attend any social program, last year - 68.6%
  • Any contact with family, daily/ nearly every day - 65.4%
  • Face-to-face contact with family, daily/ nearly every day - 56.5%
  • Need and would like more friends - 47.5%
  • Living alone - 31.0%
  • Felt socially isolated and lonely, past year - 22.4%
  • No one to confide in - 15.4%
  • No one to rely on at times of serious need - 14.1%
  • No friends at all - 13.3%

Figure 24: Challenges over the next year

Refer to the following list for a text equivalent of figure 24: challenges over the next year
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Text version of figure 24

Challenges over the next year:
  • Financial matters - 42.7%
  • Loneliness/ social isolation - 37.2%
  • Lack of employment - 35.1%
  • Poor physical health/ physical health issues - 27.4%
  • Uncontrolled symptoms of mental illness - 25.7%
  • Lack of stable/ suitable housing - 18.1%
  • Other - 12.7%
  • Stigma/ discrimination - 11.6%
  • No family or carer - 6.7%
  • Inability to access specialised mental health services - 5.8%
  • Difficulty getting a medical appointment - 3%