Fact vs. Myth
Myth: Mental health conditions are uncommon.
Fact: Mental illness is more prevalent than many people think: Approximately one in five Americans experiences it in their lifetime. Even farther, one in twenty-five Americans will experience some form of serious mental illness per year that actively limits activities in their life. It can affect anyone, including all ages, races, income levels and religions. These common conditions are medical, and can cause changes in how people think and feel.
Myth: Mental illness is the result of bad parenting.
Fact: While childhood experiences, such as parenting methods, can have an impact on a person's susceptibility to mental illness, these experiences do not strictly determine whether or not someone will be affected by a mental disorder. Research shows that one in five children between the ages of 13 and 18 have or will have a mental illness. In fact, according to the NAMI, 50% of all lifetime cases begin by age 14. Mental health conditions are not simply a side effect of parenting, but a combination of influences.
Myth: People are “faking it” or doing it for attention.
Fact: This idea is part of the very stigma that Thing With Feathers works to eliminate. A person would not choose to have a mental disorder, just as someone would not choose to have a broken leg or sprained wrist. The symptoms of mental illness may be harder to discern for an untrained eye, but this does not mean that the condition is any less real or severe.
Myth: Mental illness is caused by personal weakness.
Fact: Just like any major illness, mental illness is not the fault of the person who has a mental health condition. It is caused by environmental and biological factors, not a result of personal weakness. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits, as well as basic brain structure, may play a role too.
Myth: Different races are more prone to mental illness.
Fact: All races and ethnicities are affected by mental illness at similar rates. There is no single group of people more likely than others to have a mental health condition. However, some people have cultural influences that may affect how they interpret symptoms of a mental health condition that could prevent them from getting help.
Myth: You’re just sad, not depressed.
Fact: Depression is not something a person can will away. People often have the misconception that a person can just “cheer up” or “shake it off.” It is not just “the blues,” but a serious medical condition that affects the biological functioning of our bodies. However, there are treatments like cognitive therapy or medication that can help address the symptoms of depression.
Myth: You don’t need therapy. Just take a pill.
Fact: Everyone has different treatment needs. There is no one, right way to recovery. While medication may be helpful for many people, Thing With Feathers hold a belief that medication should not be a first choice for helping people with these conditions and instead advocate for the idea that rehabilitation methods and attempting to manage without medication should come before the decision to go on medication of any kind.
Myth: People with mental illness can’t handle work or school.
Fact: While certain mental illnesses may cause stressful situations to become more difficult for those who live with them, work and school situations can be stressful and difficult for anyone. Though it does make these situations harder, the vast majority of people living with mental illnesses are able to manage school, work, and other aspects of everyday life.
Myth: People with mental health conditions are violent and dangerous.
Fact: Having a mental health condition in no way makes a person more likely to become violent or to act dangerously. In fact, living with a mental health condition actually makes you more likely to be a victim of violence, approximately four times the rate of those who don't live with any. Studies have shown that 1 in 4 individuals living with a mental health condition will experience some form of violence in any given year.
Myth: Psychiatric disorders are not real medical issues.
Fact: Just as with heart disease and diabetes, mental illnesses are a legitimate medical illness. Research shows there are genetic and environmental causes and similar to other medical conditions, they can be treated effectively.
Myth: You can never get better from a mental illness.
Fact: Mental health issues are not always lifelong disorders. For example, some depression and anxiety disorders only require a person to take medication for a short period of time. Innovations in medicine and therapy have made recovery a reality for people living with a mental health issue, even chronic conditions. While all symptoms may not be alleviated easily or at all, with the right recovery plan, people can live the productive and healthy lives they’ve always imagined.
Myth: If you feel better, you are cured.
Fact: For some people, after getting on the proper treatment plan, it can make you feel much better. Many of your symptoms may go away, but this does not mean you’re “cured.” The relief you feel is because of your treatment plan. In order to sustain your mental health, you may need to continue treatment even after you feel better. It doesn’t matter if you need to take medication short-term or long-term, you should never stop taking medication, or change your treatment plan without talking about it with your health provider first. Symptoms of a mental health condition can come and go. There are often environmental factors that can influence a way person feels. Additionally, there are also just times when a person may exhibit symptoms more strongly.
Myth: People with mental illness are “damaged” and different.
Fact: A mental illness does not make someone any less of a person. They are not broken or odd; they just have different experiences that not everyone has to face.
Myth: A person can treat themselves with positive thought and prayer.
Fact: Positive thought, religion, and spirituality can be a powerful tool in recovery, but it shouldn’t be the only form of treatment, and i is not a cure-all option. The most effective treatment someone can receive is one that is planned by their licensed health provider and themselves.
Myth: You can’t help someone with mental illness.
Fact: Everyone can help those living with mental illness by speaking and acting in a way that preserves personal dignity. If you are a part of removing mental illness stigma in our society you are helping everyone affected by a condition.
Myth: People with mental illnesses should be kept in institutions.
Fact: While not always the case in psychiatric history, today, the majority of people living with mental illness do not need long-term hospitalization. A more comprehensive and ever-expanding understanding of mental health conditions has progressed treatments with respect and medical advancements. Like other diseases, there are periods of time where a person is particularly unwell and need a short hospital stay, but very few stay longer than a week or two. Many people with mental health conditions live productive, happy and healthy lives.
Source: NAMI Dispelling Myths on Mental Illness