The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia

There are numerous mental illnesses that the medical field recognizes today, ranging from anxiety issues to depression and beyond. Two of the most serious problems are schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They’re also two of the most confusing issues, largely due to the fact that they share a number of similar symptoms. Because of this, it’s often difficult for even professional psychiatrists to make an accurate diagnosis between the two. 

However, there are a few things that can help. First, it’s worth understanding the differences and similarities. For starters, schizophrenia is classified as a psychotic disorder that leads to delusions, hallucinations, and more. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, though it may manifest in ways that often seem similar to schizophrenia. 

The source of most confusion comes from the overlapping symptoms. For example, things like mania, depression, suicidal thoughts, social issues, and more are all common in both types of mental illness. The biggest difference lies in hallucinations. While those with bipolar disorder can experience hallucinations, they’re far more common among schizophrenics. And even when they do occur in those with a bipolar disorder, the patient will usually be far more alert and expressive when explaining those hallucinations. 

Many who begin to experience mental illness likely won’t even realize that they are suffering from the symptoms of one of these diseases – at the very least, they won’t be able to identify the specific issue they’re dealing with. Today, most psychiatrists will rely on counseling and on scans of brain activity in order to understand the exact problem. Since schizophrenic patients will show a loss of gray matter in their brain and those with bipolar disorder won’t show that loss, this is the primary method of distinguishing between the two when no other methods are working. 

No matter the problem, there are solutions. Modern medicine has led to numerous treatments that can help patients overcome bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But the first step is simply figuring out which of the two one is suffering from. To find out more, contact us today.

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Directing Change Statewide Winners 2014

Bradley Buecker and Max Adler with Analy High School students Kendra Goff, Sullivan Rutherford and their lead actor.

More than 600 students, families and mental health advocates gathered at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 13 to celebrate the achievements of nearly 996 student filmmakers who participated in CalMHSA’s second annual Directing Change Video Contest.

Created to empower young people to promote suicide prevention and end the silence associated with mental illness among their peers, the contest attracted an impressive 432 submissions from California high school and University of California students.

“I came into [Directing Change] an aspiring filmmaker and came out of it a better person.” – Kendra Goff, Sonoma County

Winning films in the suicide prevention category include:

High School

  • First: “A New Tomorrow” by Analy High School students Kendra Goff and Sullivan Rutherford (Sonoma County)
  • Second: “Perception” by James C. Enochs High School students Caleb Meyer, Jacob McNeilly, Justin Benziger, Brandon Wilcox, Mariah Davis and Megan Johnson (Stanislaus County)
  • Third: “Hey Taylor” by Canyon High School students Kimberly Stratton, Stephen Gracia, Cassidy Foelsch and Nicholas Jackson (Orange County)

“Pain Never Lasts” directors Jared Odom and Morrise Richardson from UC Riverside

University of California

  • First: “Pain Never Lasts” by UC Riverside students Jared Odom and Morrise Richardson
  • Second: “Push” by UC Santa Barbara students Gabe Fox and Carter Hiyama
  • Third: “Paper” by UC San Diego student Rhiann Hang Lam Suen


Winning films in the ending the silence associated with mental illness category include:

High School

  • First: “Couldn’t Do It Alone” by Whitney High School students Madison Preston and Justin Conti (Placer County)
  • Second: “Walk the Mile” by Pleasant Valley High School/ROP students Mary Beem and Lana Maderos (Butte County)
  • Third: “If We All Speak Loud Enough” by Canyon High School student Nick Walker (Orange County)

UC Santa Barbara student Kathleen Oum directed “We Are All Human”

University of California

  • First: “We Are All Human” by UC Santa Barbara student Kathleen Oum
  • Second: “Say Something” by UC San Diego students Ulysses Savage and Jessica Rosas
  • Third: “Not to be Ignored” by UC Merced students Kennan Conner and Salvatore Angrisani

Directing Change Video Contest submissions were judged by volunteer experts in mental health and suicide prevention, members of the media and professionals in filmmaking and video production. Films were judged based on how the entries creatively explored the topics while also adhering to guidelines about how to safely and appropriately communicate about suicide prevention and mental illness.


This year’s line-up of statewide judges ranged from Hollywood actors and producers to leaders in education and mental health. Lending their expertise in film and television production, statewide judges included actor Max Adler, director and producer Bradley Buecker, producer Scott Budnick and assistant director and producer George Parra.

To view the full list of winners and winning videos, visit

NAMI California: Empowering Californians to Attain Mental Wellness

By Jessica Cruz, NAMI California Executive Director

As families and individuals whose lives have been affected by mental illness, NAMI California has long been dedicated to breaking down the stigma and discrimination that can stand in the way of people with mental health challenges accessing support and living full and rewarding lives.

For three years, we have been proud to partner with the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) to empower people with lived experience of mental health challenges to break down barriers.  Together we are using our voices to shatter misconceptions about mental illness, create supportive environments where people with mental health challenges feel comfortable seeking and receiving help, and create resources to reach California’s diverse communities with stories of recovery and resilience.

Table 1: CalMHSA Presentation and Audience Numbers since 2011

IOOV ETS P&TasA Provider Ed
Presentations 1,004     477     86 15
Audience # 17,700 14,097 2,195 253

Table 2:  NAMI California Trained Presenter Numbers

IOOV ETS P&TasA Provider Ed
Trained Presenters 339 146      205           151

Now, through “Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement” we are standing together with thousands of individuals and organizations in a unified call for inclusion and acceptance for people living with mental health challenges.

Prevention and Early Intervention in Action Across California

Individuals and families living with mental illness know prevention and early intervention strategies are a critical way to embrace people in need of help with support that can prevent the onset of mental illness or lessen the severity of the symptoms.

NAMI members across the state were critical organizers and took action to  get out the vote to support the passage of  the  Mental Health Services Act of 2004 (Prop. 63). The voters agreed, including casting their votes to support for   Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) investments on a statewide basis.

Through CalMHSA, an organization of county governments working together to implement statewide PEI strategies, California has:

  • Reached more than 820,000 Californians with crisis and early intervention services.
  • Trained nearly 125,000 individuals in prevention strategies.
  • Launched innovative social marketing campaigns that improve mental health awareness, inclusion, and equity from childhood through adulthood.
  • Created lasting systems change, including new standards for K-12 educators to have training to improve identification of at-risk students.
  • Enhanced local crisis hotline support by expanding language capacity, outreach and marketing, training and developing new crisis chat and text lines.
  • Pioneered culturally relevant best practices to serve the needs of California’s diverse communities.

New Resources

California’s Mental Health Movement will grow stronger as we build community partnerships and share resources and strategies.  CalMHSA’s partners have developed a host of new tools and resources that can be useful in our work to champion change.

  • Research shows one of the most effective ways to raise awareness and reduce stigma is through the face-to-face sharing of personal stories.  CalMHSA’s partnership has enabled NAMI to greatly expand our network of speakers trained to share our stories of story of mental health challenges, stigma, and recovery for work, school or community organization audiences. Find a speaker through one of the many NAMI California programs including In Our Own VoiceEnding the SilenceParents and Teachers as Allies and Provider Education.
  • Share Each Mind Matters key messages with your partners and colleagues through your coalitions or organizational communications.
  • helps us find the words to say and the resources to reach out to for help in crisis.
  • Know a young person struggling with difficult thoughts and feelings? is a way young people can connect with others understand what they’re going through and offer support.
  • Share these tips about rights for individuals and families struggling with mental health challenges from Disability Rights California with your partners and colleagues through your coalitions or organizational communications.
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Call Your Legislator in Support of Mental Health Parity

From NAMI California:

Dear NAMI Members:

Your help is urgently needed to support better enforcement of mental health and substance use parity laws in California!

As you may know, the Final Rule on Mental Health Parity was adopted last year, and enforcement of those parity regulations was delegated to the states. NAMI California has been working as a part of a broad coalition to ensure that funding for parity enforcement was included in the state budget. Our coalition was successful in getting parity proposals introduced!

There are two parity enforcement proposals before Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1 on Health and Human Services and the members of the Committee and the Chair need to hear your support today! (See calling information at the bottom of this message.)

Senator Jim Beall has made a proposal in the state’s budget process to augment and improve the budget of the Department of Managed Health Care so that it can better enforce both state and federal parity laws in California. Another budget augmentation proposal, this one by the Department of Managed Care Services, would also appropriate additional money the Department needs to start enforcing parity in California.

Senator Beall’s proposal adds more consistent surveillance of managed care plan activities, augments staffing for the Department, and requires annual reporting of enforcement activities. When these are added to the budget augmentation requested by the Department the two proposals together become very powerful to give the Department the tools it needs to robustly enforce parity mandates against discrimination in health care in California and to do so transparently.

Call your member on the Committee RIGHT NOW!!  Or, if your legislator is not on the Committee or you are calling for your affiliate, call the office of the Chair.  The proposal will be heard at 1pm tomorrow in the Sub Committee hearing so time is of the essence.   If you can’t call today, please call between 9am and 12 pm tomorrow morning.  Affiliates that can should also send a representative to the Sub Committee hearing tomorrow for oral testimony.

Tell them:

  1. You support BOTH proposals, the Department’s and Senator Beall’s.
  2. Make certain you are clear that Senator Beall’s proposal adds to, and does not supplant the Departments proposal     And that both individually are very good proposals, together they are terrific!
  3. Urge support for BOTH proposals when the item is considered by the Sub Committee tomorrow!

Here is a quick script you can follow:

“Hi, my name is ________, and I’m a member of NAMI (Affiliate). I’m calling to express my support for both the Department of Managed Health Care and Senator Jim Beall’s (pronounced Bell) budget proposal to enforce Mental Health Parity laws in California being heard tomorrow in Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1. Senator Beall’s proposal strengthens the Departments proposal by providing more resources for parity enforcement. I strongly urge your support!”

Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1 on Health and Human Services Contact Information





Chesbro, Wesley

Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, and Northern Sonoma

916 319 2002 

Dickinson, Roger

Sacramento, West Sacramento, Natomas, Rio Linda, Elverta, Antelope and North

916 319 2007 

Grove, Shannon

Bear Valley Springs, China Lake Acres, Fellows, Frazier Park Golden Hills,
Inyokern, Lebec, Oildale, Ridgecrest,
 Rosedale, Taft,
Valley Acres

916 319 2034 

Mansoor, Allan

Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Newport

916 319 2074 

Weber, Shirley (Chair)

79-Includes Mission
Valley, Grantville, Del Cerro, La Mesa, Oak Park, Encanto, Lemon Grove,
National City, Paradise Hills, Bonita 

916 319 2079 

Please call NOW!!!

If you have any questions please contact our Legislation and Public Policy Director, Caliph Assagai, Esq., at

Thank you,

NAMI California Advocacy Department

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Statewide Conference Early Bird Discount Still Available

Soon NAMI California’s Annual Conference early bird discounts will run out.  Make sure to reserve your tickets today to get the best value and ensure your spot at our Statewide Conference.  Click here to get yours today:  Early Bird Discounts. The early bird discounts end June 6, 2014.

NAMI California’s 2014 Annual Conference will be held at the Newport Beach Marriot Hotel & Spa, 900 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, California 92660 on August 1st and August 2nd. In addition to its Keynote Speaker, Mariel Hemingway, NAMI California has many other notable guest speakers:

  • Gina Kaye Calhoun, National Director for Wellness & Recovery Education
  • Judge Perez, Superior Court Judge
  • Mark Refowitz, Director of Orange County Health Care Agency
  • Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine, the Founding Director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities

You can visit NAMI California’s site to learn more about the backgrounds of these speakers:

In addition, the conference will feature dynamic, informational workshops designed for everyone’s needs.  There are many to choose from that cover all areas of mental health. Click the following link to see the topics NAMI California has lined up for you and then sign-up before they are filled!

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Invitation to the World Premiere of “A Choice to Heal–Mental Health in California”

FROM NAMI CALIFORNIA: Kevin Hines, who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and Survived, Hosts this World Premiere Evening.

The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) invites you to join them for the premiere of the documentary “A Choice to Heal-Mental Health in California” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, 2014, at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento in commemoration of May Mental Health Awareness Month.

This documentary, hosted by actress Mariel Hemingway and sponsored by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, will air on CBS stations in California on May 31, 2014. The documentary details California’s groundbreaking approach to the prevention and early intervention of mental illness-an approach that is at the forefront of changing and improving the nation’s mental health care system.

Speaker Kevin Hines will host the premiere at the Crest. Kevin has a very powerful story; in 2000, he tried to kill himself by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. He now reaches millions as he travels globally teaching others the importance of suicide prevention and mental health awareness. His book, Cracked Not Broken, is in its 13th printing.

This is a free event, open to the public. Snacks and beverages will be available for purchase. To make your reservation to attend, please RSVP to Communications Director Jennifer

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Come to the NAMI South Bay Annual Pasta Dinner

Every year NAMI South Bay has a pasta dinner as part of the celebration of May as Mental Health Month.  Please join us 6:30 p.m., Monday, May 19, 2014, at the First Lutheran Church, 2900 Carson Street in Torrance, California.  Donations of $5 may be made at the door.

The NAMI South Bay Pasta Dinner is a great opportunity to network with other families and persons with a mental illness. At our regular monthly meetings we seldom have time to interact with other members. This event, in contrast, offers plenty of opportunity to connect with other members and share information.

At the Pasta Dinner  we will present some inspirational videos and have a special presentation by Shelley Hoffman, the NAMI Walk Manager, about the Los Angeles County 2014 NAMI Walk. Members and supporters can learn how to become involved in raising awareness and fighting stigma through the Walk to be held on Saturday October 11, 2014, in  the new exciting Grand Park near Los Angeles City Hall and the Disney Concert Hall.