According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 57 percent of adults believe that people with mental illness receive adequate sympathy and care. However, only one-quarter of mental health disorder sufferers agree. These 6 mental health myths may be responsible for this daunting disparity. Everyone deserves to feel safe and welcome within society, so we need to work together to dispel these mental health myths and promote the truth.
1. Mental health issues are only caused by childhood trauma.
It’s undeniable that childhood trauma and abuse often create the foundation for mental disorders. However, genetic variables, physical trauma, and substance abuse are also mental health disorder risk factors. Pain, betrayal and stress during all stages of life have the potential to alter the mind. Post-traumatic stress disorder emerges after extreme emotional or physical trauma, and such events are not exclusive to childhood. We cannot and should not assume we understand the roots of someone’s suffering. With an open mind, we can cast aside assumptions and truly address the person as a whole being.
2. Mental health problems are uncommon.
Do you or your loved one ever feel isolated because of a mental health disorder? Almost one in five adults suffer from an anxiety disorder, and millions more suffer from mood, personality, eating, and psychotic disorders. This fact reveals that we should never, ever feel the need to pretend to be “normal”. There is no true normal. We all have our struggles and we’ll be stronger if we can embrace this reality and help, accept and value each other.
3. Mental disorders aren’t true diseases and shouldn’t be taken as seriously as physical issues.
What would you do if you or a loved one broke a bone or developed a heart condition? You’d visit a medical professional and get treatment. Even though you can’t see it, mental illness can be just as serious and debilitating as physical illness. In 2010, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of 38,364 people. Most suffered from mental illness. All forms of suffering, physical and mental, deserve attention and care.
4. If you succumb to a mental health disorder and can’t get over it, you’re weak.
Do people wake up one day and will away diabetes? Are asthmatics told they’re weak because they need an inhaler? Of course not. Yet we hear all the time about how people with mental disorders are weak because they can’t break free on their own. They should just “get over it.” They should “snap out of it” and “stop fooling around.”But here’s the truth; the brain is an organ just as susceptible to disease as any part of the body. Environmental, genetic, social and biological factors are all responsible and cannot be simply willed away.
You are no less complete of a person if you have a mental disorder. Sometimes we just need help and there is absolutely no shame in seeking it.
5. People suffering from a mental illness cannot hold down a job.
It’s true that depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health challenges can create struggles in the work environment. However, I know a vast number of successful individuals coping with mental disorders that are thriving in the workforce. Many I know personally, who are seeking to help others with issues similar to their own. An abundance of artists, actors and musicians live with these disorders and continue to create and entertain brilliantly.
Mental illness does not discriminate and it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. An attentive, welcoming society that seeks to alleviate all forms of suffering will create more opportunities for those suffering from mental disorders to flourish.
6. Contemplating suicide means you’re insane or weak.
Every year, 30,000 people commit suicide. Those people are not “insane” or “weak.” They do, however, feel hopeless, lost, or trapped. They may suffer from depression, as this mental health disorder is the leading cause of suicide. We cannot ever truly comprehend the intensity of someone else’s pain. They do not perceive a way out, but with more compassion and awareness, we can help to guide them to a brighter path.
Have you or your loved one ever been a victim of one or more of these six mental health myths? What others myths do people believe about mental health? I encourage you to learn the truth and seek the help you need. You deserve it.