11 Oct 2014

Living with schizophrenia: two musicians’ stories

World Mental Health Day drove a massive social media spike in people discussing schizophrenia – but what is it like living with the condition? Channel 4 News spoke to two musicians.

The global event saw tweets on “mental health” rise from less than 10,000 per day normally to nearly 50,000, and tweets on “schizophrenia” increasing from 1,000 per day to over 4,000 on Friday.

But there are still many misconceptions associated with schizophrenia – most specifically that those who suffer from the mental health condition are dangerous.

Channel 4 News went to meet two mental health service users, both who have been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, to ask about how the condition affects their daily lives (see video, above).

Devon Marsten (drums) and Roger Brooks (vocals) were both diagnosed with schizophrenia in their early 20s. The condition is most commonly diagnosed in late teens or early 20s.

The pair play music at Sound Minds, a south London arts charity founded by Mr Marsten, and are also involved in a charity that provides peer-to-peer care for people with mental health difficulties who are leaving hospital.


One in four people suffer from mental health difficulties, and schizophrenia affects almost 300,000 people in the UK.

But media representations and a lack of knowledge about the condition, have created a reputation that those with schizophrenia are unstable or dangerous.

The Liberal Democrats have said they are prioritising mental health – with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announcing that mental health will be brought in line with other NHS services with the introduction of waiting time standards.

Under an initiative being brought in from April 2015, backed by £40m funding this year and £80m next year, people with mental health conditions will be guaranteed treatment in between six weeks and 18 weeks.

Last month a Channel 4 News investigation found that two-thirds of mental health trusts who responded to a Freedom on Information request had had their funding cut, and that a shortage of beds was threatening patient care.