9 Myths About Mental Health
There are many myths and negative stereotypes surrounding the topic of mental health.
These false beliefs creates a stigma which can lead to feelings of discrimination and isolation for anyone dealing with a mental health illness.
The only way to finally end the stigma of mental illness is to identify the common myths and misunderstandings that people have about the mentally ill.
This article will bust some common mental illness myths held by people in the United Kingdom.
Myth #1 — Mental health problems won’t affect me
Many people assume that they are immune to mental illness.
They often believe that this is the case because they assume mental illnesses are caused by genetic factors or a weak mind.
The reality is — mental illness can affect anyone.
In the UK, about 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year.
About 1 in 6 experience a common mental health (like anxiety or depression) each week.
While some mental illnesses do have genetic factors, most mental health problems are caused by:
- Severe psychological trauma (emotional or physical abuse, neglect, social isolation)
- The loss of a loved one
- Physical illnesses or injuries (certain types of infections and brain injuries)
- Substance abuse
- Severe stress (caused by work, family conflicts, physical illness)
It is possible for anyone to experience one or more of these mental illness risk factors at any point in their lives.
Myth #2 — People are born with a mental illness
This is a very common myth in the UK.
While a person can be born with genetic factors that increase their risk of having a mental illness, no one is “guaranteed” to suffer from a mental illness during their lives.
Many people with mental health problems have no family history of mental illness whatsoever.
Myth #3 — Mental illnesses are lifelong and incurable
When treated appropriately, most people will fully recover from their mental illness and will have no additional episodes of mental illness throughout their life.
However, some people do require ongoing treatment and may have a recurrence of their condition at some point.
A tiny percentage of people who suffer from a mental illness will become disabled and require ongoing care.
However, the vast majority of people simply receive treatment and return to their normal lives.
Myth #4 — People with mental illnesses are dangerous
This is one of the worst mental illness myths as it contributes to the stigma surrounding mentally ill people.
It is rare for people with a mental illness to be dangerous.
Even people with severe psychosis and paranoia will not be dangerous if they are receiving the appropriate treatment and support.
Myth #5 — It is safer for people with mental illnesses to be locked up
This myth became widespread because so many people mistakenly believe that mentally ill people are dangerous to themselves or other people.
The truth is, most people will recover from a mental illness quickly without the need for hospitalisation.
Others might need a brief stay at a hospital or psychiatric care facility.
In most cases, mentally ill people do not need to be placed into isolation for their own protection or for the protection of others.
It is very rare for mentally ill people to require long term hospitalisation or isolation.
Myth #6 — Children can’t experience mental health problems
Unfortunately, children can also experience mental illness.
About half of all mental health disorders will display their first symptoms before a child turns 14 and three-quarters of mental health disorders will begin before the age of 24.
It is important for parents to be aware of the symptoms of mental illness and talk to a medical professional if they are worried about the mental health of a child.
Myth #7 — People with mental health needs cannot hold down a job
There is a common myth that people with mental health disorders cannot tolerate the stress that is associated with having a job.
The truth is that many people who have a mental illness can also have very successful careers.
When they receive treatment for their illness, their performance improves even more.
Myth #8 — I can’t do anything to help a person with a mental illness
If you have a friend or relative who has been diagnosed with a mental illness, you can support them in many different ways:
- Reach out and let them know that you are available to talk
- Help them access the treatments they require
- Learn more about their condition so you know what they are going through
- Continue treating them with respect and friendship
Myth #9 — It’s impossible to prevent a mental illness
It’s a common misconception that a mental illness is inevitable if it is “in your genes”.
That’s not true.
Even if a person has a family history of mental illness, they can take steps to prevent it from affecting them.
By having a well balanced and healthy lifestyle, a person’s likelihood of having a mental illness is greatly reduced.