Mental Health Myths
Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay
There is still so much mental health stigma in this world, even after all these years. While we have made some incredible progress toward understanding mental illness, what causes it, and how we can treat it, there is still a lot more pertinent information that we have yet to uncover and learn about.
Educating people on mental health and mental health disorders can help tear down the walls of mental health stigma one brick at a time. People fear what they don’t know. So, helping people who have never struggled with their mental health or who have never had a loved one who struggled with their mental health learn the facts from the myths can help make the topic feel less scary for some people.
Don’t get caught up in believing in these 5 common mental health myths!
Myth 1: Having a Mental Health Disorder is Rare and Uncommon.
If having a mental health disorder is so uncommon, then why did the World Health Organization (WHO) state back in 2001 that one in four people are affected by a mental health or neurological disorder at some point in their lives? Think about that for a moment. For every four people you know, one of them will be struggling with their mental health and you may not even be aware of it.
Around 450 million people in the world struggle or have struggled with their mental health at some point in their life. That is way too many people for mental illness to be considered an uncommon or rare issue.
In 2017, it was found that 264 million people around the world struggled with depression. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. These numbers have been on the rise since the pandemic hit.
I think it’s safe to say that mental health disorders are not as uncommon as some people would like to think.
Myth 2: You Can’t Work When You Have a Mental Illness.
The first thing I have to say about this myth is that I have multiple mental health disorders (including but not limited to Bipolar Disorder and even a Dissociative Disorder) and I have been working since I was 13-years-old with only about 4 years worth of time total that I was unemployed. I have even gone back to work after a three year break from employment and I have been at my current job for about 6 months now.
Being able to work can depend on the severity of the individuals condition. A study that was done in 2014 found that 54.5% of individuals with severe mental health disorders were actively employed compared to the 75.9% of people who were employed and living without a mental health condition. That is only a 21.4% difference in the employment rates.
That alone can go to prove that just because you struggle with your mental heath does not mean that you can’t find gainful and meaningful employment. People with mental health disorders might struggle a bit more with work tasks and functions compared to someone who doesn’t have a mental health condition but they can still competently do the same work.
Myth 3: Everyone Who Has a Mental Health Disorder is Dangerous.
This myth couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of the kindest and nicest people I know struggle with their mental health. There are plenty of dangerous people in the world who don’t have one single mental health disorder. A persons history and past traumas and upbringing can all factor into what could lead to someone being labeled as dangerous.
Yes, there are some people with mental health disorders who are dangerous. But then again, there are some people who would be considered normal who are also considered just as dangerous. Shows like “Snapped” and “Forensic Files” show us first hand how your average Joe could be pushed over the edge until they snap and become dangerously violent.
Saying that everyone with a mental health disorder is dangerous is just as bad as saying only obese people get diabetes and heart disease which we know isn’t true. If you don’t understand much about mental health disorders and have never experienced it first hand, you are more likely to fear those who do have mental health disorders.
Myth 4: Mental Health Disorders Aren’t Real Medical Conditions.
Would you ever tell a diabetic that their condition isn’t real? Would you tell someone with heart disease that their condition is also not real? Then why would anyone think that mental health disorders aren’t real medical conditions? Just because you can’t physically see what is wrong with someone doesn’t mean that the illness isn’t there. Just because you can’t detect a mental illness on blood work or in x-rays doesn’t mean that it’s not there.
Sometimes you just have listen to an individual and observe their behavior to understand how real mental illness is. People don’t want to struggle with anxiety and depression, but it is something real that millions on people around the globe struggle with on a daily basis. People don’t choose to have or even want to have a mental illness, it is something that they could have been born with that doesn’t surface until they get older.
Scientists usually tend to agree that there are three main contributing factors that can play a role in someone developing a mental illness; brain chemistry, genetics, and environmental factors.
Mental health disorders are as real as you and me. Would you believe in these conditions if there was some kind of bloodwork you could go for that would determine what mental illness a person has? People who claim mental health disorders are a sham are unnecessarily discounting what millions of American’s have to struggle with every single day and are shaming them by saying that what they experience and live with isn’t real.
Myth 5: People With Mental Illnesses Are Weak Minded.
Thinking someone is weak or weak minded because they struggle with their mental health is downright insulting to the person and highly inaccurate. While people who live with mental health disorders can accomplish the same tasks as someone without a disorder, it usually tends to take more effort and work to get to the same place when you struggle with a mental illness.
People who have never dealt with a mental health condition before, don’t seem to understand just how much effort it takes trying to survive the internal battles in your mind on a daily basis that no one else knows about while trying to function like a “normal” person. It takes bravery and courage to push through your day when you just want to shut down and pause the world but yet you keep moving forward.
People with mental health disorders are sick, not weak. #SickNotWeak
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Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.