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Common Misconceptions About Mental Illness Everyone Should Abandon

Common Misconceptions About Mental Illness Everyone Should Abandon

Stigmas related to mental health are a real issue. They still exist all over the world. In America alone, there are about 8 million people struggling with severe mental illness. Of those, only about half are treated and most face long term battles with mental health. Just as the cyclist in the featured image of this article misjudged his jump, many people still have misconceptions about mental illness.

But why fight these mental health stigmas?

Fear of discrimination and the attached stigmas often keep people and their families from facing mental health problems. This creates a regressive effect. It keeps those in need from seeking help, and to put it lightly, this is very problematic.

Mental health is as important as proper physical health. Access to treatment and issues with insurance coverage can also be a barrier to seeking treatment. Mental health treatment should be viewed similarly to how physical ailments are addressed.They often times go hand in hand.

Be a voice of reason by advocating mental health. Doing so starts by comprehending some of the misconceptions that are unfortunately still present in society. The following misconceptions and myths about mental illness must be reversed, and we can all do our part through self-education and communcation!

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People Can Recover From Depression or Anxiety Disorders With Prescription Drugs Alone

While certain prescription drugs can certainly aid in overcoming a lot of mental illnesses, they are by no means a comprehensive cure. Therapy and counseling are just as important and offer many crucially essential benefits to those with mental illnesses.

People may make claims such as: “Counseling, therapy, and self-help are a waste of time. Don’t bother with all of that when you can simply take a pill.”

This is definitely not true. Prescription drugs can be taken in addition to, not instead of, therapy and counseling.

Additionally, self-care is often times one of the true roads to combating mental health issues. Take a look at the photo below for a relevant quote on self-care.

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    Image courtesy of Social Work and Self Care infographic by Case Western School of Applied Social Sciences

    Those Struggling With Mental Illness Can Simply “Pull Themselves Out of it”

    For some reason many people are under the impression that those with mental illness are simply lazy or faking it. This is not only insensitive, it’s downright incorrect. People do not want to have a mental illness. It’s not a crutch, it’s a deeply intricate burden on a person’s overall health.

    It’s not easy to get past, hell, it’s not easy to even come to terms with having a mental health issue in the first place. Those affected need our help and support, not shameful or belittling words.

    Related: A Comic That Shows What It’s Really Like To Live With Depression And Anxiety

    Those Who Are Mentally Ill Can’t Hold Down a Job or Properly Take Care of Themselves and Their Families

    This is sometimes true in regards to more severe forms of mental illnesses that exist. But the majority of the people suffering from mental health disorders are able to meet their work requirements and keep up with their responsibilities. They are also able to satisfy the needs of those around them including their family and close friends. They have social lives, they function at work and school. Since so many people with mental health issues seem fine from an outsider perspective, sometimes even their family members and those closest to them do not realize how much they are truly hurting.

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    Children Don’t Experience Mental Illness

    Very young kids can show early signs of mental illnesses. Often times mental illnesses in children are a byproduct of their upbringing and home life, but not always.

    It’s unfortunate to know that less than 20% of children and adolescents with mental health problems are able to get necessary treatment. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other needs related to development.

    People With Mental Health Problems Are Typically Violent And Unpredictable

    Those with mental illnesses are not more violent or dangerous than the rest of the population.

    They are, however, more likely to harm themselves, or to be harmed by others such as police, peers, coworkers, etc.

    People with mood and anxiety disorders can still be violent, but realistically so can anyone. It’s not fair to place blame on something like status of someone’s mental health when comparing to criminal behavior.

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    In fact, police forces typically don’t take mental health into account. They usually don’t have proper training and misinterpret encounters with people who have mental illnesses. This creates a ripple effect which makes citizens believe that there is a negative/criminal quality possesses by those who aren’t mentally stable.

    In reality, police officers don’t know how to deal with these issues, so they simply criminalize what they don’t understand.

    Next time you hear someone refer to a person with a mental illness as ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’ it is completely justifiable to point out that it is not alright to use such shaming language. It is important to question how using those kinds of harsh words can segue into negativity and breed generalizations that are frankly not true.
    What other misconceptions are out there? Have you faced these yourself or witnessed them in your lifetime? Share your stories below to help educate the readers of this post.

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    Robert Parmer

    Freelance Writer

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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