Myth’s surrounding mental health disorders have been present for years, but as increased interest into the fields of psychology, medicine and neurology have expanded, these false pieces of information have propagated at exponential rates. Below we will identify those myths, as well as highlight the truths enveloped in these topics.
Myth: If you have a mental illness you are considered “crazy”
Suffering from a mental health condition does not mean you are crazy. Having psychological conditions means that there are certain behaviors and/or cognitive effects that are creating difficulties in important areas of functioning (social, educational, vocational, personal). Comparably to someone who is suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, there are certain vulnerabilities and challenging behaviors that are present within these medical conditions, but this does not mean that the person is strange, crazy, or insane. It simply means humans, together, are susceptible to diseases and sicknesses, just like everyone else, but this does not determine the individual. You are more than any psychological or physiological problem being experienced. As a well-educated neuropsychologist once told me, “the same way that people become physically ill, they also have the same opportunity to develop mental afflictions. It’s not something to be ashamed of or discriminated for”.
Myth: People that have mental disorders are very aggressive and violent
This myth gained popularity from two distinct sources; (1) the public misrepresenting and incorrectly labeling certain psychological symptoms, and (2), when there is a mass amount of violence, generally, various media outlets pick up on this and quickly describe or surmise the event is due to mental health conditions. Unfortunately, people that suffer from psychological conditions may actually be the victims of numerous violent or dangerous situations. Continued education and empathy should be prioritized to move away from this myth along with understanding that people with mental illness are not inherently violent and would actually prefer to not be involved in situations relating to aggression, peril, or brutality.
Myth: Psychiatric medications are not good for you
The comments that psychiatric medications are bad is a myth that is discussed and heard very regularly. Many individuals believe that only “weak” or “submissive” people take medications, but this is without a doubt untrue. Pharmaceuticals are not “happy” pills, they are serious treatment modalities that are essential for individual daily functioning. Psychiatric medications allow 131 million adults in the United States to be able to experiences cognitive relief, and/or behavioral improvements in order to face the day-to-day stressors of life. Pursuing any kind of psychological treatment is extremely courageous and admirable. It takes a great deal of effort for someone to prioritize their health and seek help. Additionally, across various investigations the effectiveness and efficacy of psychiatric medication has continuously been proven to improve the quality of life for individuals in social, economic, vocational, and personal domains. For many Americans, continuous research, and distribution of medication is needed to allow alleviation of a wide spectrum of symptoms, and to permit appropriate functioning.
Myth: People that have a mental health disorder cannot work
A very consistent myth that continues to create difficulties in the lives of those affected by mental health disorders, and the families of those individuals. The myth that people with mental health condition cannot work is false. There does exist severe psychological disorders that produce various difficulties in people and thus they are unable to work, or carry out a career, but this is a small minority of people. The large majority of individuals with mental health conditions can maintain, progress, and build a worthwhile life through their occupation.
Myth: Mental health problems are rare
As a result of the stress, fear, worry, and uncertainty concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, an exponential number of individuals have experienced mental health problems. Not surprisingly, more recent results have expressed that the number of individuals undergoing stress, worry, anxiousness and depression has doubled, and in particular cases tripled throughout the pandemic. Even when we observe society before the pandemic, psychological issues were already prominently existing. To exemplify this point, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2001 estimated that roughly 1 in 4 individuals in the world will be affected by mental health issues, with 450 million presently experiencing some kind of condition associated to mental illnesses. Additionally, depression and anxiety continue to be one of the highest rated disorder with 264 million individuals globally, and 6.8 million adults in the U.S. reporting that they experience these onerous conditions. Even more captivating, is the fact that these are the statistics that are being reported. Think of all the individuals you have met in your life who experience various hardships, and need assistance, but have not sought therapy, or a psychological evaluation, and thus are not being reported. Therefore, not only are mental health conditions common, but they can present in virtually all individuals living today. Essentially, what I am trying to say is, you are not alone.
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We want to hear from YOU! What are some of the myths, or false statements about mental health that you have heard?