Mental health is an extremely broad term that covers a vast spectrum of different conditions. As a result, there are many mental health myths that have been spread which do not reflect the reality of living with these psychological conditions. To set the record straight, listed below are ten of the most common ‘facts’ about mental health that everyone has been led to believe are true.
1. Mental health problems are rare
Although it is often assumed that mental health conditions are rare, in reality, one in every five people suffers from a mental health disorder of some kind.
2. People with mental health disorders can be violent and unpredictable
Many people are reluctant to interact with people suffering from mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder because they fear they will be subject to violent outbursts. In fact, people with mental health disorders are far more likely to be the victims of violent attacks than the perpetrators of these incidents. As a US government mental health study revealed: “only 3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness … people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population”.
3. Mental health disorders are hereditary
Although some mental health disorders demonstrate certain biological factors which can be passed down through family members, there are many different mental health conditions that can be caused or exacerbated by environmental factors, such as poverty and stress.
4. You can treat mental illness with drugs
Despite the fact that many people suffering from mental health disorders are administered anti-depressants or other pharmacological treatments, these medications are not cures for their conditions and are often only temporarily prescribed and are combined with targeted psychiatric support.
5. Being stressed is not a mental health condition
Although everyone feels a certain amount of stress within their personal and professional lives, chronic stress is a serious condition that is often underestimated by the general public. If left untreated, chronic stress manifests in severe psychological and physiological symptoms. According to the National Committee for Quality Assurance: “Depression results in more days of disability than chronic health conditions such as heart disease”.
6. Mentally ill people cannot hold down a job
Despite the fact that some mental health disorders require institutionalised care, a vast number of mental health conditions can be treated in a manner which enables the people afflicted to pursue promising careers and lead happy, independent lives.
7. Being mentally ill only affects your mind
Did you know that people suffering from mental health conditions die on average 20 years earlier than the general population? Due to the fact that these people are less likely to seek the medical treatment they need when they fall ill, it is important to dispel this misconception and create more jobs in psychologyso that people with mental health conditions can receive medical support when they need it the most.
One person who suffers from a particular condition, such as bipolar disorder, cannot be treated with the same pharmacological or psycho-social procedures as another bipolar sufferer. Every case must be treated individually in order to find an appropriate solution which will be most beneficial for the person involved.
9. “I can handle my own mental health issues”
Many people do not want to admit that they are suffering from stress, depression or another symptom which may point towards an underlying mental health condition. However, seeking help is not a sign of weakness and in the long term, it can prevent negative emotions from escalating into harmful symptoms.
10. These days, people are much more understanding about mental health
As the aforementioned ‘facts’ demonstrate, there are still many widespread misunderstandings with regards to mental health. However, by dispelling these myths, increasing the number of jobs in psychology professions, and facilitating more research into the root causes of mental health conditions, it is possible to help those in need receive the targeted support that they deserve.