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Mental Health: Schizophrenia - A Serious Mental Illness

  • : Brisbane City QLD 4000

Includes: Reducing Stigma; Physical Health Risks and Assessment; Health Promotion; Recovery; Pharmacotherapy; Electroconvulsive Therapy and much, much more...



The ability of nurses and other health professionals to provide safe and effective physical and mental health care to people with schizophrenia is highly dependent on a sound knowledge base of this serious mental illness. This two-day seminar will provide you with a comprehensive update on this debilitating condition, assisting you to apply evidence-based assessment and management principles to your practice, regardless of the setting you work in. Attend this seminar to:

  • Explain the relationship between schizophrenia and psychosis
  • Better understand schizophrenia’s complex pathophysiology
  • Identify specific weak points along the lifespan which may trigger the development of this mental illness
  • Determine evidence-based pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments that align with patient-determined goals
  • Assess the physical health risks of a person with schizophrenia’s physical health risks and apply health promotion strategies to avert them
  • Understand when electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is safely indicated for people with schizophrenia and improve their experience of ECT
  • Become more informed and assist in reducing the stigma surrounding schizophrenia, promote community acceptance and advocate for people with this mental illness

Gain knowledge and apply it to your practice immediately. Book now!


Need for Program

People with schizophrenia require access to a range of general and mental healthcare settings, at different points along the trajectory of their illness. The effect of schizophrenia on a person is profound. As a mental health disorder it is frightening and debilitating. Physical health outcomes are also poor if health promotion does not recognise and reduce physical health risks such as metabolic disease. 

This demands that all nurses, regardless of their speciality, have a basic level of knowledge of this serious mental illness. Central to the commitment of nurses and other health professionals to providing care that meets the holistic needs of people with schizophrenia is an evidence-based update on this serious mental illness. Informed health professionals are then in a position to apply knowledge of schizophrenia to reduce stigma and promote community acceptance.

Purpose of Program

The purpose of this two-day seminar is to provide nurses and other health professionals, who work across a range of general and mental healthcare settings of varying acuity, with an opportunity to gain a comprehensive evidence-based update on schizophrenia - a serious mental illness. The learner will be able to translate knowledge and skills learnt during the seminar to the assessment and management of a person with schizophrenia, ensuring delivery of healthcare that improves patient outcomes.

Your Learning Outcomes

  • Apply evidence-based knowledge of schizophrenia to reduce stigma and promote community acceptance
  • Complete a systematic physical assessment to determine physical health risks associated with schizophrenia and employ physical health promotion strategies to avert these risks across a range of settings
  • Broaden knowledge of a range of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment options so as to achieve patient-determined treatment outcomes
  • Implement knowledge of safe and appropriate electroconvulsive therapy to practice whereby improving the person’s experience of electroconvulsive therapy
  • Schedule Day One

    8:30am - Registration and Refreshments


    History of Schizophrenia

    Schizophrenia has not always been well understood. Even now, with awareness of this serious mental illness quite high among health professionals and the community, much stigma remains as a result of the way schizophrenia has previously been viewed over the course of history. This introductory session will set the scene for the seminar and look at how our understanding of schizophrenia as a serious mental illness has steadily grown over time. Includes:

    • From 'non-specific madness' to a brain disorder - how has the portrayal of schizophrenia evolved over time?
    • How does stigma impact on the experience of someone with schizophrenia?
    • Can an understanding of the history of schizophrenia help us to differentiate the person from the disease?
    • Myths of schizophrenia - what is it not?


    Separating Schizophrenia and Psychosis

    Knowing the difference between schizophrenia and psychosis is crucial in understanding this complex illness, including its presentation. This session will clarify these concepts, assisting you to build knowledge and understanding of the relationship between schizophrenia and psychosis and includes:

    • What is psychosis?
    • What may trigger an episode of psychosis?
    • How does acute psychosis manifest in someone with schizophrenia?
    • Can psychosis exist separately to schizophrenia?
    • How may psychosis present within a cultural context?

    10:15am - Morning Tea and Coffee


    Schizophrenia - A Serious Mental Illness

    Of all the mental illnesses, schizophrenia is often described as the most debilitating. The often bizarre and abnormal behaviour that accompanies schizophrenia is the result of disturbances to cognition and perception. This session will provide a comprehensive update on the pathophysiology of this disorder and begins with an interactive activity to assist you to understand what it truly means to live with schizophrenia. Includes:

    • An assault on all senses - the lived experience
    • Definition, subtypes and an overview of how each subtype manifests, including signs and symptoms
    • Prevalence in Australia - is this disorder increasing in prevalence?
    • Genetic risk factors for schizophrenia
    • Pathophysiology of this complex condition - what’s happening in the brain?
    • Diagnosis including differential diagnoses


    The Perils of the Lifespan

    More evidence is emerging that specific periods across the lifespan may leave a person more vulnerable to the development of schizophrenia than at other times during development. This has ramifications for health professionals as it must increase awareness of those who may be more at risk and encourage early recognition and treatment. This session will examine some specific weak points along the lifespan and includes:

    • The early post-natal period
    • Adolescence
    • Environmental risk factors for the development of schizophrenia e.g season of birth and developmental insults
    • The diagnostic dilemma - other triggers such as drug and alcohol use

    12:45pm - Lunch Break and Networking


    Treating Schizophrenia - A Holistic Approach

    Successful treatment of schizophrenia requires a patient centred, multi-modal approach. This often includes collaboration between the interdisciplinary team and is likely to occur across a range of settings. This brief session will outline broad goals of treatment of schizophrenia before specific treatment options are discussed. Includes:

    • Establishing patient- and family-centred goals of treatment
    • Social reintegration - the key to success?
    • Stages of treatment
    • Primary roles of the interdisciplinary team
    • Choosing appropriate settings


    Treatment Options - Pharmacological Agents

    Antipsychotic medicines are considered to be first-line pharmacological agents when treating schizophrenia. Knowledge of these medications must be sound for any health professional involved in the treatment of schizophrenia to ensure safety and efficacy. This session will explore the contemporary treatment options of various pharmacological agents, referring to relevant clinical guidelines, and include their indications, contraindications and reported adverse events. Includes:

    • Typical and atypical antipsychotic agents
    • Mood stabilising agents
    • Antidepressant medications
    • Sedatives


    Treatment Options - Non-Pharmacological Therapies

    Patient-centred, non-pharmacological strategies must be advocated by the health professional in order to achieve successful treatment outcomes. This is particularly important in assisting people living with schizophrenia to develop meaningful relationships, maintain employment and achieve a goal of social re-integration. The focus of this session is on the following non-pharmacological strategies for the treatment of schizophrenia and includes:

    • Cognitive therapies
    • Alternative therapies

    3:30pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


    Achieving Recovery

    Like many chronic illnesses, there is currently no cure for schizophrenia. However, this does not mean that recovery is not possible. The final session for Day One considers what recovery means for a person living with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and asks what can be done by health professionals to help achieve recovery. Includes:

    • What is recovery?
    • What does quality of life look like for someone with schizophrenia?
    • The use of technology as a tool for recovery, especially in young people
    • Reducing the amount of cognitive decline
    • Promoting community acceptance and reducing stigma

    4:30pm - Close of Day One of Program

    Day Two

    9:00am - Commencement of Day Two


    Schizophrenia - A Recipe for Poor Health?

    A range of factors associated with a diagnosis of schizophrenia leave a person with this condition vulnerable to a multitude of physical health complications. As providers of patient-centred care that encapsulates the person’s physical and mental health, health professionals must be capable of recognising and responding to physical health issues in a person with schizophrenia. This session will shine a spotlight on physical health in chronic mental illness and includes:

    • What characteristics of chronic mental illness, particularly schizophrenia, may leave a person prone to poor physical health outcomes?
    • Communicating physical health concerns sensitively
    • Preventative strategies to keep a person out of institutions and acute care settings


    Metabolic Syndrome and Treatment Agents

    Metabolic syndrome and other cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, are commonly seen in people with schizophrenia. While common risk factors such as sedentary lifestyle and poor diet contribute to this risk, more evidence is emerging that connects antipsychotic agents, used to treat schizophrenia, with the development of these diseases. This session aims to clarify this link and provide insight into how health professionals can assist people with schizophrenia to modify their risk factors and improve their overall physical health. Includes:

    • What factors worsen an already high mortality rate?
    • Are certain agents more likely to induce weight gain and other changes?
    • Establishing and modifying risk - tools for success
    • Physical health and mental wellbeing - finding a healthy balance

    10:30am - Morning Tea and Coffee


    Assessing Physical Health - A Systems Approach

    It has been well established that schizophrenia is associated with a range of poor physical health markers and outcomes. This session will take a head-to-toe approach and demonstrate how a mental health disorder can create a cascade of poor health functioning. It will systematically outline strategies that health professionals can introduce to promote health for each body system and avert risks. Includes:

    • Cardiovascular health
    • Respiratory health
    • Dental health
    • Sexual health

    12:30pm - Lunch Break and Networking


    Overview of Electroconvulsive Therapy - Beyond the Clinical Guidelines

    Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is not a new treatment, yet it remains at times poorly understood and is often seen as controversial. As health professionals, a sound knowledge of this treatment is the key to having informed patients and ensuring safe outcomes. The session will provide a brief overview of ECT and its origins in history. Includes:

    • Historical context of the use of ECT
    • What is ECT?
    • How is ECT performed? Who is able to perform it?
    • Ethical considerations and the Mental Health Act


    Electroconvulsive Therapy and Schizophrenia

    Although most frequently used for the treatment of mood disorders, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be indicated for use in specific situations where an individual is experiencing an acute episode of schizophrenia. This session outlines the safe use of ECT in the treatment of schizophrenia and includes:

    • Why is ECT used in the treatment of schizophrenia?
    • Indications and contraindications for ECT
    • What are the different types of ECT?
    • ECT and high risk populations

    3:15pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


    The Patient’s Experience of Electroconvulsive Therapy

    This final session will explore some of the common side effects associated with ECT. One of these - the description of cognitive impairment and memory loss offered by patients - is often forgotten in the realm of quantitative research. This session will demonstrate why it is necessary to listen to the voices of patients who receive this experience in order to improve their experience of ECT.

    4:15pm - Close of Seminar and Evaluations


    Karen-Ann Clarke

    Karen-Ann Clarke

    Dr Karen-Ann Clarke is a registered general and mental health nurse who has worked in a wide variety of acute and community care mental health settings. Working as an academic at the University of the Sunshine Coast, her PhD research explored how women diagnosed with depression made the decision to receive electroconvulsive treatment. She is now engaged in work that focuses on the medicalisation of women’s health and emotional wellbeing. Teaching more than 600 students every year and involved in immersive mental health simulation, Karen-Ann has a passion for working with students in a way that minimises stigma and normalises emotional responses to life.

Mental Health: Schizophrenia - A Serious Mental Illness
Speciality Classification
Provider Type
12 hours 30 mins
Start Date
End Date
12 hours 30 mins
Price Details
Brisbane City QLD 4000
Hotel Ibis Brisbane, 27 - 35 Turbot Street
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