8 Myths About Mental Health vs. Some Actual Truths
People with mental illnesses are violent and/or dangerous
People with mental illness are, on average, no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most aren’t violent; in fact, only 3% to 5% of violent acts can be attributed to severely mentally ill individuals. The severely mentally ill are more likely to be the VICTIMS of violent crime than the general population. Many are active members of their communities; you probably know someone with a mental illness and don’t even realize this.
Mental illnesses are caused by weakness or laziness, and the people who suffer from them should “snap out of it”
Mental health issues have nothing to do with being lazy or weak; many need help to get better. Mental health is affected by many factors, whether biological factors, life experiences, or family history. People with mental health problems can get better and recover completely.
Mental illness doesn’t affect children and teens
Even young children can show early signs of mental health issues; these can be a product of multiple factors and their interactions. Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before the age of 14, and three-quarters of mental health disorders begin before the age of 24.
People who experience mental illnesses can’t work
People with mental health problems can be just as productive as everyone else; employers who have hired them have reported good attendance, punctuality, motivation, and good work; they have also reported job tenure on par with or greater than other employees. When mentally ill employees receive effective help, it can result in lower medical and disability costs, increased productivity, and lower absenteeism.
Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?
Treatment for mental health issues isn’t necessarily limited to just a pill; it can certainly vary, depending on the individual person. Treatment can certainly include pills; it can also include medication, therapy, or both, and many individuals also work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.
I can’t do anything for a person with a mental health problem.
You can ABSOLUTELY do something for someone with a mental health issue; friends and loved ones can make a heck of a big difference. Unfortunately, only 44% of adults and less than 20% of children and adolescents with mental health issues receive needed treatment. Friends and family can be important influences on helping someone get the help they need by reaching out and letting loved ones know that they are available, helping them access services, learning and sharing, treating them with respect, and refusing to define them by their diagnosis.
Prevention doesn’t work. It is impossible to prevent mental illnesses.
It is absolutely possible to prevent mental illness; prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders focuses on addressing known risk factors that can affect the chances that people will develop mental health problems. For children and youth, supporting their well-being can lead to higher productivity, better educational outcomes, improved quality of life, increased lifespan, and improved family life.
Mental illnesses aren’t real illnesses
Mental illnesses ARE real illnesses, and so much more than just the regular ups and downs of life. They create distress, don’t go away on their own, and are real issues with effective treatments. Just because you can’t see the results of something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.