1 in 4 of the world’s population will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime. Treatment for mental illness is available and often effective, but the stigma attached to it often prevents individuals from seeking help. Myths about mental health are prevalent and harmful and must be debunked.
1. Mental health problems can never be completely cured.
People who are diagnosed with mental health issues often develop systems of depression after assuming they can never be cured. The reality is that the vast majority of mental health problems are completely curable. Some illnesses, such as schizophrenia, can be controlled but never completely cured, but approximately 80% of mental illnesses can be treated by a mixture of medication and therapy.
2. People suffering from mental health issues are violent.
This myth is propagated by the fact that most mentions of mental illness in the media are often related to a violent crime which has made the news. In fact, a large majority of mentally ill people are non-violent. Poverty, drugs and homelessness are the main causes of violence, not mental illness.
3. Only weak people can be mentally ill.
Mental illness is caused by environmental factors, social factors, genetics and biology. It is not caused by weakness. Just as someone could not reasonably be called mentally weak for having a food allergy, a person can not be considered weak for being mentally ill – there is simply no correlation. Real strength comes from asking for help when you need it, and helping others if they come to you.
4. Kids can’t be mentally ill.
Mental illness being a solely adult problem is a myth as dangerous as any other. Children can, and do, suffer from mental illness and need help and protection when it occurs. Many mental illnesses can develop early on in one’s formative years and have lasting negative effects on an individual’s life. Early detection and suitable treatment of mental illness in the young is crucial to their well-being throughout their life.
5. People become mentally ill because they were raised by bad parents.
There isn’t one clear cut and simple reason as to why a person becomes mentally ill. Myriad and complicated factors contribute to a person’s mental health – genetics, environment, and experience being just a few. The time that parents can have a definite effect on their child’s mental well being is in recovery. Love and support from family and friends plays a crucial role in a person’s fight to recover from mental illness.
The reality is that treatments for mental illness are available, and are often successful, but they are not always sought out. It is estimated that almost two-thirds of mentally ill people will never receive medical help for it. The best way to change attitudes and destroy stigmas is to understand and educate. Mental illness is not weakness, it is not failure, it is an illness like any other. Help is available and it is effective. The only barrier is overcoming antiquated and erroneous stereotypes.