The Most Common Misconceptions about Mental Health
Even with increased awareness around the importance of mental health, many people in our society don’t recognize that mental health and physical health are equally important. This stigma leads to separate, and unequal, treatment for people who might be suffering silently.
If we want people who are struggling with mental illness to get the help they need, we have to first understand the myths behind these illnesses. Here are some of the most common mental health myths, plus information that will help you challenge each and every misconception.
Myth 1: Only weak people are mentally ill
Mental strength has nothing to do with whether or not someone is susceptible to mental illness. In fact, there are many things that can contribute to the likelihood of mental illness:
- A family history of mental health struggles
- Brain chemistry
- Life experiences like trauma and abuse
These are all things that absolutely cannot be controlled by sheer force of will. While it would be great to develop a strong mind to force mental illness away, that’s not how it works.
Myth 2: True mental illness is rare
Just because you can’t always see the physical symptoms, and just because someone hasn’t openly admitted to their mental illness, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
1 out of every 5 adults in the United States experiences mental illness in any given year. Further, approximately 1 in 25 adults in the country experience a serious mental illness that dramatically interferes with and/or limits them in one or more major life activities.
People you know and love could be struggling and you might have no idea. And, if you’re suffering, it’s unlikely that you’re alone. To challenge this myth try speaking up if you want to share your story, and be open to listening to your friends and family about their own battles with mental illness.
Myth 3: Mentally ill people are violent
This concrete fear leads to mental health stigmas — it’s easy to develop negative associations with something so misunderstood. But, most people with mental health problems aren’t violent, despite what media headlines tell us.
Data backs up this claim. The American Psychological Association reports that 7.5% of crimes bear a direct relation to symptoms of mental illness. Socioeconomic factors like poverty, substance abuse, and unemployment are all factors that are more likely to lead to violence.
Myth 4: It’s impossible to recover from mental illness
Some mental health disorders, like schizophrenia, can’t be cured. They can be successfully managed, though.
Other issues, like depression and anxiety, can go away after treatment. That even means a total recovery is possible for many people.
The key is to find a treatment plan that works for the individual. Counseling from an experienced therapist is one of the best tools available, and it’s worth suggesting to others and exploring on your own. A therapist can also help normalize feelings that come with mental illness, because these problems are so much more common than many people realize.
If you or someone you love is struggling with mental illness, our therapists can help sort through misconceptions and find a way through personal challenges. Contact us today!