People are often afraid of seeking treatment for their symptoms of mental health problems because they worry about how the rest of the world will perceive them. Will my boss rethink his decision of promoting me? Will I be a burden to my girlfriend? What will my family and friends think of me? These are all common questions that people fear. As a result, seeking professional help is usually postponed due to the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. We urge you to join us in the movement of stopping it. Psych2Go shares with you 6 misleading misconceptions about mental illness:
1. You’re either mentally ill or mentally healthy.
Adapting this black or white mindset is what creates stigmas around mental illness in the first place. It is popularly believed that as long as there is no family history of mental illness, then the individual is healthy and safe. But, the biological factor only plays one role. External factors, such as the environment and one’s upbringing can cause someone’s mental health to spiral down. It’s also easy to hide behind a smile.
People with a great career, a caring spouse, and a loving family can suffer silently with a mental illness. But it comes off as a surprise, because you wouldn’t know unless that individual disclosed that information with you. There’s a spectrum and we all fall somewhere on it. Similar to wounds and cuts, it can range from mild to severe.
2. People with a mental illness are more likely to be violent.
The news often links school shootings or other violent incidents to mental illness. Although it is frequently portrayed that criminals have mental illnesses, many people with mental illnesses actually aren’t violent. According to the American Psychological Association, only 7.5% of crimes are linked to mental illness. Factors, such as unemployment, poverty, and substance abuse, are usually more common reasons why people commit crimes. But this isn’t acknowledged enough. Instead, the public concentrates more on what people with mental illness are doing wrong instead of giving credit to what they accomplish everyday.
3. People with a mental illness can’t hold down a job or maintain relationships.
This one is such a slap in the face. Although people with severe mental illnesses face challenges and limitations that can highly affect their ability to work or make social connections with others, the same does not necessarily apply to the majority of the population who have mental health conditions. Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety may cause the individual to become more stressed or demotivated to carry out tasks at work, but by seeking therapy and practicing techniques, the individual still holds potential to get better and accomplish what needs to be done. People with mental illnesses are also capable of maintaining relationships. There may be times where things feel incredibly unstable, but even relationships between people who don’t have mental illnesses can break based on many other factors.
4. Everything can be fixed with medication.
Although medication for disorders, such as anxiety and depression can help, it’s not the only option for treatment. In fact, usually medication alone is not enough to help the individual. They may also need psychotherapy, which involves talk sessions with professional therapists, join support groups, or use self-help techniques, such as meditation and breathing exercises. Depending on the side effects, certain medication may not always help. This is why it’s important to talk to a doctor about your options and the amount of dosage that would benefit you the most.
5. People with a mental illness who contemplate or attempt suicide are attention-seekers.
Unfortunately, many people suffering from a mental illness who enter a dark place where they begin to contemplate or attempt suicide are often looked down upon in society. Instead of providing them with emotional support or offering resources that can help them, people may be too busy judging them for having problems, rather than finding solutions. As a result, those with mental illnesses often suffer silently and feel alienated because the public refuses to understand and prefers to attack them.
6. Mental illness is forever and defines who you are.
People with mental illness are often misperceived to be weak. But if an athlete, who is physically strong and generally considered fit and healthy, were diagnosed with cancer, they wouldn’t be considered weak. It’s important to apply the same concept to mental illness. Just because someone has one, does not mean that they are mentally weak. In fact, many people with mental illnesses are usually mentally strong because of the endurance and willpower they train their minds to adapt. Although some severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, don’t have a cure yet, with various scientific breakthroughs happening in modern age today, many mental illnesses are treatable. It’s important to recognize that a mental health problem does not and should not define any individual.
What are your concerns with the way mental illness is portrayed today? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!
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Falde, N. (2018). 8 Misconceptions about Mental Health and Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
Morin, A. (2015, November 9). The 5 Most Common Misconceptions About Mental Illness. Psychology Today. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
Rauch, J. (2015, October 8). 10 Misleading Assumptions About Mental Illness: Learn the Truth. TalkSpace. Retrieved March 29, 2018.