Myths about mental illness are all too common, and can be burdensome for those who cope with such debilitating mental health concerns. Most individuals have had some experience or other with mental illness, either firsthand themselves or with other people in their lives.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. (43.8 million, or 18.5 percent) experiences mental illness in a given year, and one in five youth aged 13 to 18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point in their life. Regardless, common myths about mental illness create unnecessary misperceptions and stigma, and needless obstacles in interpersonal relationships.
The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), reports that some of the most popular myths in circulation today as reported by mental health professionals include: propagating the false notion that depression and other mental illnesses are a result of some kind of character flaw; or the false belief that those with mental illnesses are volatile, irrational, and dangerous; or that mental illnesses can be “willed away” with positive thinking.
Let’s debunk some of the more popular mental illness myths.
Myth #1: There is no hope for someone with mental health problems; he or she will never recover. Actually, people frequently can and do recover from mental illnesses of all kinds. With the increasing discovery of new types of treatments and with the wide availability of services and resources, no one ever has to live with the mental anguish, doubt, and confusion brought on by mental illness. People with mental illnesses that continue for long periods of time can learn how to manage their symptoms so they are not impeded from reaching their goals. It is extremely common for those with mental illnesses to function normally, contribute at work, school, or by volunteering, and to be productive and happy. Those who continue to struggle with challenges may require a different approach, treatment, or forms of emotional support.
Myth #2: Mental illness isn’t really an illness in the traditional sense. The reality is that a mental illness is no less real than having the flu, breaking a leg, or suffering from cancer. While we all go through normal ups and downs as a normal, expected part of life, mental illnesses can create ongoing and sometimes debilitating stress in an individual’s life. Mental illnesses can’t just be “walked off,” and in many instances, require professional treatment, just like a serious case of the flu, a broken bone, or a case of cancer.
Myth #3: People with mental illnesses are violent, unpredictable, and dangerous. The truth is that a majority of researchers agree that a mental illness does not necessarily predict violence, but rather that individuals who live with mental illness are no more violent than those without a mental illness. You might be surprised to learn that people with mental illnesses are more often victims of violence than they are perpetrators.
Myth #4: Individuals who suffer from mental illness are fragile, timid, and can’t hold down a job or cope well with stress. Knowing how to take care of oneself and having the humility to ask for help when needed are indicators of strength and maturity. While it’s true that stress can have an adverse effect on normal daily functioning, it is worthy to note that this is true for everyone, not just those with mental illnesses. Treatment for mental illness may involve learning coping skills like problem-solving and stress management, and for this reason, those with mental illnesses may be more adept at managing stress levels than many people who have never had to grapple with mental health challenges.
There are countless more myths about people affected by mental illness, many of which may have discouraged you or someone you love from seeking proper treatment needed to learn how to manage and recover. The individual person is more than any mental health disorder he or she may have. The right guidance and help can help anyone get back to enjoying and living life to the fullest.
Are myths about mental illness preventing you from seeking help you may need? If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team atSolara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.