Can you tell the difference between a myth and a fact? Yes? No? It is difficult to identify the common mental health myths that have made a comfortable place in our minds. But it is not impossible to bust them!
There have been large-scale movements to eradicate mental health myths and misconceptions surrounding mental illness, and they are still present in our society.
It is time that we change mental health reality and make it easy for people to seek help without any apprehension or shame.
Healingclouds is here to bust the myths around mental illnesses with facts and remove mental health stigma.
It is up to us, to educate ourselves and others and set the path forward. Here are 10 mental health myths that people make and what you need to know about them:
Myth 1: Mental health issues/ illnesses are rare.
1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives, implying that someone you know may be living with mental illness.
If you are not aware of any such person subtly hints that there isn’t sufficient understanding in our society on how to know that a person is living with a mental health issue.
We need to rapidly increase our mental health literacy. In order to do so, we must debunk the common mental health myths and encourage conversation around mental health more and more.
Myth 2: People with mental health issues/illnesses are not able to work.
People with mental health issues can hold successful jobs. 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health issue in any given week in England. (1) It is most likely that a significant number of employed population experience burnout, depression, stress, and anxiety, and other mental health issues.
There might be a discrepancy in the data because these symptoms tend to remain hidden at work. The unwanted discrimination at work people face after opening about their mental health issues affects people’s productivity and might lead to absenteeism.
To our relief, corporates have begun to take initiatives to address their employees’ mental wellbeing, and the figures might change positively.
Myth 3: People with mental illnesses are usually violent and unpredictable.
Unfortunately, in our society today, mental health and violence are inextricably linked.
We are too quick to judge and label people as “crazy” or “mad” when a person commits violence or any unpredictable activity. Most people living with mental health problems, even those with severe ones like schizophrenia, are not violent. Someone with a mental illness is more likely to be a victim of violence than be a perpetrator.
Fact-check: According to the British Crime Survey, almost half (47 per cent) of the victims of violent crimes believed that their offender was under the influence of alcohol and about 17 per cent believed that the offender was under the influence of drugs. In addition, another survey suggested that about 30 per cent of victims believed that the offender attacked them because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In contrast, only 1 per cent of victims believed that the violent incident happened because the offender had a mental illness. (2)
Myth 4: It’s just a business.
These days everyone has their opinion in mental health, and that is awesome. We must talk about mental healthcare more.
However, when we make a judgement or give remarks regarding mental health, we need to remember that there are certain qualifications required for a person to become an expert to practice and diagnose mental health issues with the right authority.
Fact-check: Countries worldwide spend just 2% of their health budgets on mental health. Despite visible increases in recent years, international development assistance for mental health has never exceeded 1% of all development assistance for health. There’s a rising need to kickstart funding in mental health, to make mental health available and affordable to people.
Myth 5: I cannot do anything to help someone living with a mental illness.
There are multiple ways in which you can make a difference in a person’s life living with mental illness. Here is how:
- Listening to them with empathy
- Check-in with them regularly.
- Making them feel included
- Making them believe that your relationship with them has not changed
- Asking twice but giving them enough space and time to open up
Myth 6: You can’t recover from mental health problems.
Recovery is a process. A very disciplined diagnosis with eventual progress and successful management of symptoms of a mental health condition. Sustained recovery is possible with effective treatment and support from peers and people surrounding the person living with a mental health problem.
Mental health disorders might not vanish forever, but people with mental health issues can work, maintain healthy relationships within and outside their family and live their life to the fullest.
Myth 7: Mental health issues are just mood swings, and only young adults have them as part of puberty! It’s normal.
Depression and other mental health issues can affect children as young as two years old. Mental health issues can happen to anyone without race, sex, gender, class, or age.
Saying that mental health issues are normal might end up risking the severity and the consequences of people living with them. It’s okay to talk about mental health issues, but trivialising them by not assigning any importance to them can make it worse. Most importantly, it can prevent people from seeking professional help when needed.
Myth 8: I have OCD because I am a neat freak!
Most people care about being clean and live in a clean space, which is totally different from having OCD. However, OCD is more than choosing cleanliness and organising as a daily routine.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder involves different compelling behaviours and fears. A clinical obsession is an unwanted and intrusive thought, impulse, or idea. They are unable to control their urges. Above all, people with OCD don’t necessarily get pleasure out of cleaning and keeping things in order.
Myth 9: You are too happy/powerful/successful to be depressed.
Mental health is so much more about how a person looks or how successful they are in life.
We have seen celebrities worldwide who have shared their journey of suffering and overcoming depression. Depression manifests itself in different ways, and people living with mental health issues hide their sufferings and are afraid that they may disappoint their friends and family.
To sum it up, when such mental health myths are prevalent in our society, people are not very confident to seek help. The stigma and shame attached to mental health contribute significantly to how a person responds to their problem.
We must be aware that casual remarks can affect the lives of people. It is high time that we educate ourselves and offer constant support to people living with mental health disorders.
By educating people and spreading awareness, we can overcome the barriers preventing access to quality mental healthcare services.
It is important that we deliberately and consciously take a stand for mental health and bust these myths. Knowing is preventing. 😊
The bottom line is to educate ourselves and others around us. It is up to us to set the record right and help people heal with love and support. It is okay to seek help. Talk to a therapist whenever you feel your thoughts are unclear or your mental health is deteriorating.
Visit us for more such self-help resources and share your contribution to spreading awareness about mental health and wellbeing. Our pack has got your back!
1. McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016). Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2014.
2. Coleman K, Hird C, Povey D. 2006, ‘Violent Crime Overview, Homicide and Gun Crime 2004/2005’, Home Office Statistical Bulletin