8 Mental Health Myths
Updated: Feb 28
As a society, we Americans haven’t exactly been the best at talking about our feelings and emotions. This unspoken resistance is one reason mental health stigma and discrimination continues to exist. Education is the key to reducing both discriminating views and over-all stigma which surrounds mental health.
This blog post is dedicated to debunking 8 common mental health myths.
Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: The vast majority of people struggling with mental health problems are not violent. Only 3% - 5% of violent acts can be attributed to persons living with a serious mental health disorder. In fact, persons struggling with a mental health issue are 5 times more likely to be victims of a violent crime compared to the general population.
Odds are someone you know and care for is struggling with a mental health issue right now that you aren’t aware of because most people with mental health issues are productive members of their communities.
Myth: A person with a mental health diagnosis is damaged or weird.
Fact: Mental health does not change one’s value or worth. A person struggling with a mental health condition is no more damaged or weird than someone diagnosed with asthma, high blood pressure, lupus, heart disease or any other health condition.
Myth: Personal weakness and/or character flaws cause mental health issues.
Fact: Mental health problems have nothing to do with personal character flaws or being weak. There are many contributing factors to mental health including but certainly not limited to;
Biological factors: body and brain chemistry, hormones, physical illness or injury.
Life experiences: including childhood experiences, trauma, history of abuse or neglect and family history can also be factors.
Myth: Counseling and therapy are a waste of time. Why bother? Just take a pill.
Fact: The appropriate treatment for a mental health ailments varies depending on the individual and the issue. Research shows long term healing from emotional and mental health problems is often not solved by medications alone.
Case in point, medication can help manage symptoms associated with a mental health condition. Whereas, counseling and therapy can help get to the bottom of the underlying issues which frequently cause the symptoms. Counseling can also help a person develop tools to improve overall functioning.
Typically, an integrative approach of counseling coupled with psychotropic medications is the best course of action for long term wellness.
Myth: Mental health problems don't affect me or my family, period.
Fact: Mental health conditions, just like physical health conditions, are extremely common. One out of every four Americans experience a mental health issue at some point in his or her lifetime.
Even if you’ve never experienced mental health issues, chances are someone in your family is navigating through life right now with an undiagnosed mental health condition.
Myth: There is no hope for a person with a mental health diagnosis. Once someone develops a mental health condition, he or she will never get well.
Fact: Research shows that with professional treatment most people struggling with a mental health condition to get better and many recover completely. Recovery in this sense refers to the idea in which a person is able to work, live, learn and be productive members of society while also being able to enjoy positive personal and professional relationships.
Myth: People with mental health problems can snap out of it if they pull up their boot straps.
Fact: A person with high blood pressure or a broken arm can’t snap themselves into a better level of health any more than someone with a mental health condition. The idea that mental health problems are completely self controllable if false and contributes to senseless struggling and unrealistic expectations for the person suffering. (For those who might not be familiar with the phrase "pull up your boot straps", it essentially means " just suck it up."
Myth: There is nothing I can do to help a person struggling with a mental health condition.
Fact: Expressing general care and concern can make a big difference in the life of someone struggling with a mental health issue. Research indicates that only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive needed professional treatment.
Even more startling, less than 20% of children receive needed treatment. Friends and family members can play a valuable role in providing emotional support and encouragement.
Additional ways to assist include; helping the person locate and access mental health services in his or her area, treating the person with kindness and respect, learning and sharing facts about mental health, and perhaps most importantly, refraining from defining or labeling the person based on their mental health condition.
In short, every human being has mental health. At times, for a multitude of reasons, just as with physical health, a person’s mental health can become out of balance.
Without acknowledgment and understanding of basic mental health facts, we, as Americans, risk compounding problems associated with un-diagnosed and untreated mental health issues in America. Problems which are negatively impacting our country, our communities, our families, as well as, the personal relationship we have with ourselves.
Misti Luke, LCSW is a master's level, fully-licensed mental health therapist in Southeastern Oklahoma where she maintains a private counseling practice and treats a wide variety of behavioral health issues. Misti is passionate about reducing mental health stigma in the Sooner State. For correspondence, firstname.lastname@example.org
The contents of this blog post are for informational purposes only and should never be used to assess, diagnose or treat any type of health condition. If you are in crisis, dial 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room.