Today, it’s widely accepted that mental health has a great bearing on quality of life and that individuals with mental health conditions are as deserving of compassion as anyone else. But even with all the information we have at our disposal, plenty of myths about mental health persist. These myths increase the stigma around mental health and prevent people who need medical help from getting the help they need. So as World Mental Health Day approaches, here are 6 mental health myths you shouldn’t fall for;
Mental health problems are uncommon. You would be surprised to learn just how prevalent mental health problems are. Back in 2001, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) estimated that “1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives,” and that was before the Great Recession of 2008 and the coronavirus pandemic. At the moment, 460 million people in the world are living with mental health conditions, with WHO classifying mental disorders as one of “the leading causes of ill health and disability worldwide.”
People with mental health conditions cannot work. Contrary to what some may think, individuals with mental health disorders can be productive members of society as well. A 2014 study investigating employment status according to mental illness severity found that 54.4% of individuals with severe conditions were employed compared to 75.9% of people without a mental illness.
Mental health problems are a sign of weakness. Just like physical impairments, mental health disorders are a sign of neither weakness nor poor character. And like physical illnesses, you will need professional help to be able to properly manage a mental health disorder.
You can just talk to your friends. Although friends can offer invaluable advice when we need it, the best way to get a handle on your mental health is to talk to a professional. You wouldn’t ask your friend to help fix a broken leg, would you? A trained therapist will be confidential, objective and can address issues in ways a friend, however well-meaning, couldn’t.
Mental problems are permanent. Everyone deals with their illness differently. Some may experience episodes where their illness acts up before returning to ‘normal’ while others may find medications or talking therapies that help them better manage their illness. “Recovery from mental illness includes not only getting better but achieving a full and satisfying life. The journey to full recovery takes time, but positive changes happen along the way,” explains Mental Health America.
Overcoming addiction only takes willpower. Unfortunately, the hold addiction can have on the mind takes more than willpower to break. Experts consider drug use disorders to be chronic diseases, with a paper in Addictive Behaviors Reports surmising that “people with addiction seem not to be short on willpower; rather, recovery is dependent on developing strategies to preserve willpower by controlling the environment.”
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