Mental disorders affect one in five people worldwide. The most common mental illness is schizophrenia, which already affects more than 50 million people worldwide. Mostly young people are affected. Poor social awareness, growing prejudices and stereotypes lead to stigmatisation and social ostracism, and consequently to discrimination and exclusion from professional and social life of people suffering from it. Today, medicine is providing more and more treatment options, allowing patients to have a better quality of life and function in society - not giving up their social, family or professional life. The challenge, however, is that patients are reluctant and distrustful of treatment and often abandon treatment during periods of improvement in their condition.

In response to the above, the Institute organises meetings throughout Poland for patients with schizophrenia and their carers entitled: 'Improving knowledge and awareness of schizophrenia treatment and available therapeutic options tailored to the patient's needs'. The meetings are workshop-based - they begin with a factual presentation by a psychiatric specialist on the therapeutic options used to treat schizophrenia. In the second part of the meeting, participants have the opportunity to talk about problems related to the illness, discuss forms of treatment, provide their observations and comments, exchange experiences or ask questions of the specialist.

The organisation of such meetings undoubtedly contributes to raising awareness of the problems that arise in the course of the illness and increasing the factual knowledge of the treatment of schizophrenia among patients and their carers; it also allows the participants' doubts to be dispelled by providing answers to their questions by an expert in the field of psychiatry, which in turn can translate into a positive therapeutic effect for patients.

To date, we have organised 14 meetings in 12 cities in Poland with a total of 530 participants.