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Mental Health Myths and Facts

 

Myth: Mental health conditions are uncommon.

Fact: Mental illness is more prevalent than many people think: One in five Americans experiences it in their lifetime. One in twenty-five Americans experience a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. It can affect anyone, including all ages, races, income levels and religions. These common conditions are medical, and can cause changes in how people think and feel.


Myth: Mental illness is the result of bad parenting.

Fact: Children can, and do, have mental health conditions. Research shows that one in five children between the ages of 13 and 18 have or will have a mental illness. In fact, 50% of all lifetime cases begin by age 14. While environmental factors can affect a person’s mental health, biological factors can affect individuals just as actively. Mental health conditions are not simply a side effect of parenting, but a combination of influences.


Myth: People are “faking it” or doing it for attention.

Fact: No one would choose to have a mental illness, just as no one would choose to have a physical illness. The causes for mental health conditions are intensively studied and they are real. For anyone living with a mental health condition, their specific symptoms may not always be visible to an untrained observer. It can be challenging to relate to what people with mental health conditions are going through, but that doesn’t mean that their condition isn’t real.


Myth: Mental illness is caused by personal weakness.

Fact: Just like any major illness, mental illness is not the fault of the person who has a mental health condition. It is caused by environmental and biological factors, not a result of personal weakness. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits as well as basic brain structure may play a role too.


Myth: Different races are more prone to mental illness.

Fact: All races and ethnicities are affected by the same rate of mental illness. There is no single group of people more likely than others to have a mental health condition. However, some people have cultural influences that may affect how they interpret symptoms of a mental health condition that could prevent them from getting help. And while the rates are the same, awareness of mental illness in varying minority groups is important to highlight, as these groups often times get overlooked in the potential differences of outcomes in mental illnesses.


Myth: You’re just sad, not depressed.

Fact: Depression is not something a person can will away. People often have the misconception that a person can just “cheer up” or “shake it off.” It is not just “the blues,” but a serious medical condition that affects the biological functioning of our bodies. However, there are treatments like cognitive therapy or medication that can help address the symptoms of depression.


Myth: You don’t need therapy. Just take a pill.

Fact: Everyone has different treatment needs. There is no one, right way to recovery. While medication can help, it may not be the only thing a person needs to feel their absolute best. Often a combination of therapy and medication provides the best outcomes. You should speak with a mental health professional to help determine what the best treatment plan is for you.


Myth: People with mental illness can’t handle school, work and parenting.

Fact: Everyone suffers from depression and stressful situations throughout life. People with mental health conditions go to school, have careers, are small business owners, coach youth sports, great parents and are involved in their communities and charities. Having a routine that includes work, school, volunteering and other activities, typically helps people with a mental illness.


Myth: People with mental health conditions are violent and dangerous.

Fact: Having a mental health condition does not make a person more likely to be violent or dangerous. The truth is, living with a mental health condition makes you more likely to be a victim of violence, four times the rate of the general public. Studies have shown that 1 in 4 individuals living with a mental health condition will experience some form of violence in any given year.


Myth: Psychiatric disorders are not real medical issues.

Fact: Just as with heart disease and diabetes, mental illnesses are a legitimate medical illness. Research shows there are genetic and environmental causes and similar to other medical conditions, they can be treated effectively.


Myth: You can never get better from a mental illness.

Fact: Mental health issues are not always lifelong disorders. For example, some depression and anxiety disorders only require a person to take medication for a short period of time. Innovations in medicine and therapy have made recovery a reality for people living with a mental health issue, even chronic conditions. While all symptoms may not be alleviated easily or at all, with the right recovery plan, people can live the productive and healthy lives they’ve always imagined.


Myth: If you feel better, you are cured.

Fact: For some people, after getting on the proper treatment plan, it can make you feel much better. Many of your symptoms may go away, but this does not mean you’re “cured.” The relief you feel is because of your treatment plan. In order to sustain your mental health, you may need to continue treatment even after you feel better. It doesn’t matter if you need to take medication short-term or long-term, you should never stop taking medication, or change your treatment plan without talking about it with your health provider first.

Symptoms of a mental health condition can come and go. There are often environmental factors that can influence a way person feels. Additionally, there are also just times when a person may exhibit symptoms more strongly.


Myth: People with mental illness are “damaged” and different.

Fact: A mental illness does not make someone any less of a person. They are not broken or odd; they just have different experiences that not everyone has to face.


Myth: You can’t help someone with mental illness.

Fact: Everyone can help those living with mental illness by speaking and acting in a way that preserves personal dignity. If you are a part of removing mental illness stigma in our society you are helping everyone affected by a condition. Two easy ways to do this are:

  • Using person-first language. This means that a person is not their illness; an example would be saying “she has depression” not “she is depressed”
  • Do not use offensive slang. A person with a mental health condition is not “crazy,” “psycho,” “insane,” or “loony.” When you use these words you are implying again that a person is solely their illness.

 

Sources: NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness

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Mental Health Stats

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.
  • 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.
  • 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.
  • Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year.
  • Just over half (50.6%) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.

LEARN MORE

Mental Health Myths and Facts - Bipolar Disorder Myths and Facts - Depression - Anxiety - PTSD - Dual Diagnosis - Mental Health Support for Families 

Myths and Facts Surrounding Bipolar Disorder | Depression | Autism | PTSD | Anxiety Disorder | Schizophrenia | BipolarLife101

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