Mental health has risen to a new level of awareness in our post-pandemic world. While there is work yet to be done, what was once stigmatized is now becoming normalized. Overcoming these 5 mental health myths will be an important step forward as conversations around this topic continue.
Mental Health Myth #1: Mental health issues are rare
According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), nearly one in five adults live with a mental illness. Though the severity and degree varies from mild to moderate to severe, the impact is widespread and more common than many think. Depression alone impacted 264 million people in 2017 and that number is reported to have tripled during the pandemic. Overcoming the mental health myth that you are alone if you are suffering is one of the keys to having healthier conversations and solutions.
Mental Health Myth #2: Mental health issues are permanent
Being diagnosed with a mental health condition does not doom you to a life sentence of challenges. Many mental health issues can be managed or reversed with the right treatment and support. Medication may be helpful to some while others may benefit from counseling or lifestyle adjustments. Mental Health America explains, “Recovering from mental illness includes not only getting better but achieving a full and satisfying life. Many people affirm that their journey to recovery has not been a straight, steady road. Rather, there are ups and downs, new discoveries, and setbacks.”
Mental Health Myth #3: Mental health issues are a sign of weakness
All races, genders, and socioeconomic groups are susceptible to mental health issues. Mental health challenges are no more a sign of weakness than suffering from a physical health condition, like a broken bone or a disease. Causes of mental health conditions are broad and complex. Not only are mental health conditions not a sign of weakness but in reality take great strength to traverse and overcome.
Mental Health Myth #4: Mental health issues prevent people from working
A commonly held mental health myth is that people with mental health conditions cannot hold a job or be a productive contributor in the workplace. While the severity of mental health issues does impact employment status, a study in 2014 reported employment rates ranging from 54.5% to 75.9%. Medical News Today summarized that ”the majority of people with mental health issues can be as productive as individuals without mental health disorders.”
Mental Health Myth #5: Mental health issues cause violence
People suffering from mental health conditions are no more violent than the rest of the population. Even those with more severe conditions like schizophrenia, proclivity toward violence rises only moderately with risk factors that are the same as the general population. Sir Graham Thornicroft, a professor of community psychiatry at King’s College London in the U.K. writes in the Lancet that, “People with mental illness are much more often the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators.”
Debunking these 5 mental health myths, among others, will help build bridges to better conversations about mental health on our university campuses, in the workplace, and in our communities.