There is still a stigma around mental health even though it is talked about more than it was in the past. This stigma has made misinformation about mental illness common. There are a lot of common misconceptions about mental illness. Knowing the facts can help you understand mental health and the benefits of cognitive psychotherapy.
Myths about mental illness can keep negative stereotypes alive or reinforce the idea that someone should not seek a therapist. In addition, people who suffer from mental illness may be afraid to speak with friends, family, or a mental health professional because they think that they will be judged. It is important to look at the myths and learn the truth in order to help destigmatize mental illness.
- Mental Illness Means Someone is Crazy
People often use the term crazy to describe someone who suffers from mental illness. This promotes the inaccurate idea that mental illness makes you unable to act normally and that mental illness is not treatable.
There are tons of different mental health issues ranging from mild to severe. The frequency of symptoms and the symptoms themselves can be vastly different between different people. The term crazy is often associated with psychosis, delusions, and schizophrenia, but is also used as a blanket term for mental illness.
- Mental Illness is Rare
Some forms of mental illness are common. In fact, the World Health Organization estimated in 2001 that 25 percent of people would be affected by mental or neurological disorders during their lifetime.
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders and in 2017 it was estimated that over 264 million people suffered with depression. Anxiety is also common and affects over 3 percent of the U.S. population.
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- Mental Illness Makes You Weak
A lot of people wrongly assume that people who are affected by mental illness are mentally weak. That is not the case in the same way that you would never call someone with a physical disability “weak.” Mental illness does not have anything to do with mental or cognitive strength.
On a related note, people often mistakenly believe that people who suffer from substance use disorder are weak or do not have sufficient willpower. This is not true, and addiction is a disease and people who suffer require substantial willpower in order to recover, but do not have less than other people.
- Mental Illness Makes People Violent
Mental illness has a misinformed reputation of causing violence. This is especially true of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorder. However, it is important to note that people who suffer from mental illness only account for 4.3 percent of violence and that people who suffer from mental health disorders are more likely to have been a victim of a violent crime.
- Mental Illness Makes It Impossible to Function in Society
It is true that some mental health issues can make it more difficult to be productive, but these conditions are also treatable. In addition, not all people affected by mental illness are homeless, in a mental health institution, or unemployed. Millions of people who suffer with mental illness successfully hold jobs and have loving families.
Over half of people who suffer from severe mental health conditions remain employed. This statistic only increases when the severity of the mental illness decreases.
- Mental Illness Is Not Treatable
It is a myth that when someone develops a mental illness, that they will never get better. Some mental illnesses are chronic, but that does not mean that they cannot manage their symptoms. The right treatment can help people virtually overcome many different mental health conditions. Some mental health problems will also be short lasting and can diminish or go away completely.
- Treatment is Scary
Sometimes people wrongfully believe that the only way to successfully treat mental illness is with lobotomies, padded rooms, overmedication, and shock therapy. These days, the treatment usually consists of psychotherapy or other therapeutic methods in addition to medication when necessary.
Final Thoughts on the Myths Surrounding Mental Illness
It is important that we reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness by spreading factual information. This can help those who suffer mental illness by showing them that they can speak with their friends and families. It may also help to encourage someone to seek the help that they need from a mental health professional.
If you or someone you know suffers from mental illness or other mental health concerns, do not be afraid to speak up. Talking to someone can help you improve your overall wellbeing and lead you to a more positive future.