Myths About Mental Health: Why You Should Know Them?
‘Crazy’, ‘Cuckoo’, ‘Mad’, ‘Nut Case’, and ‘Lunatic’ are a few of many words that are often used for people who suffer from one or more mental illnesses. People who use such terms for mental health patients may not realize but this is not only impolite and insensitive but also inhumane.
Just like you don’t go around making fun of people who suffer from physical health problems, you should not make fun of mental health patients as well. Many people don’t believe this but mental health is a serious issue in the world. Throughout the ages, there have been incidences of people, who encounter challenges related to their mental health. Various mental illnesses affect people, irrespective of their ethnicities, backgrounds, and occupations.
But in today’s time, the situation regarding mental health issues has become more alarming than before. Despite having technologies that simplify a lot of tasks that are carried out as a part of daily routine or professional duties, people live complicated and stressful life. Their mind wanders around recklessly stumbling upon thoughts that may seem anything but close to the truth.
In such a scenario, falling a victim to mental disorders is quite easy. Lifestyle and mindset are not the only reasons that can lead to the emergence of mental health issues. Many factors can be held responsible depending on the condition of an individual patient.
However, we will not focus on the factors here. The objective of writing this blog post is to raise awareness regarding mental illnesses. We want to dispel some myths about mental health disorders so that patients suffering from them can live as normal life as possible. Breaking myths and sharing facts can help individuals and communities accept mental health patients the way they are, thereby smoothening the journey of recovery.
Mental Health Myths vs Facts: Debunking the Common Myths
You might be wondering why you should be interested in learning about the common myths that surround mental health. Well, we can’t imagine that you would have never come across a mental health patient in your life. When people meet patients suffering from mental illnesses, they might say or do something that cannot be deemed right.
Therefore, having knowledge about the facts can help you avoid say or do something that can hurt the emotions of mental health patients or their loved ones. You can knowingly or unknowingly contribute to the recovery process of patients by staying away from myths.
Now, let’s have a look at the misconceptions regarding mental health and the facts that replace these misconceptions.
- Myth: Mental Health Issues are Rare Occurrences
- Myth: Genetic Composition Leads to Mental Disorders
- Myth: Mental Illnesses Emerge from Personality Weaknesses
- Myth: Mental Health Problems Stay Forever
- Myth: All Mental Health Patients are Violent
- Myth: Jobs are Not for Mental Health Patients
- Myth: Any Medical Professional Can be Consulted
- Myth: Patients with Friends Don’t Need Professionals
Fact: Mental Health Issues are Common Occurrences
The chances of getting affected by a mental health issue can be considered equal, if not higher, than the chances of getting affected by issues like flu and fever. Several studies have shown that mental health problems are more common than you can think.
As per the statistics recorded in the year 2017, more than 10.5% of the total world population suffers from some kind of mental health disorder. It’s worth mentioning here that people who are dealing with substance abuse or alcohol abuse are also included while undertaking researches and studies. Disorders related to alcohol abuse and substance abuse are considered mental disorders.
The percentage of the world population suffering from mental illnesses increased from 10.5 to 13 in the year 2021. A large portion of this increase in the percentage of patients can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fact also dispels the myth that almost everyone believes in – “I cannot get affected by a mental health issue”. You are as susceptible to mental health problems as anyone else.
Fact: A Variety of Factors are Liable for Mental Disorders
Many times, it’s believed that genetic composition and chemical imbalance are prime reasons responsible for mental disorders. You might have heard people claiming that a certain patient has mental health issues because of his or her parents. The notion that mental illnesses pass from one generation to another is widely spread amongst different countries. But this is not completely accurate.
This is one of the dangerous myths around mental health issues. Experts suggest that genetics and biological factors have only a little role to play in the emergence of mental health issues. The major roles are played by social and psychological factors, such as the environment that people live in and the harsh experiences that they encounter.
In simple words, personal and professional relationships, financial condition, emotional well-being, and social status affect the mental condition of a patient. In the case of some patients, factors like stress, pressure at work, accidents, and traumas can also trigger mental problems.
Fact: Mental Illnesses Can Affect Even Mentally Strong People
The myth that mental health illnesses take place due to weaknesses in the personality of a patient is one of the oldest myths regarding mental illness. Those who are ignorant of mental health problems and the difficulties faced by patients often believe this myth. They even claim that if patients put in enough effort, they can get rid of mental problems.
Such kinds of claims are mostly made in the case of patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. But the truth is that even mentally strong people, i.e., people who have always faced every obstacle with courage and determination can fall victim to mental issues. No person willingly becomes a mental patient. Mental health problems are an outcome of various incidences that might have occurred in the life of a patient.
So, coming out of a mental disorder is not as easy as people think. A combination of different treatment methods is required to enable a patient to recover fully or partially. Even those patients who are addicted to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs can’t be perceived as having character flaws. Nor they can quit their addictions immediately. They need to follow a proper procedure for getting back to their normal life.
Fact: Mental Health Problems are Treatable
From all the myths about mental disorders that are prevalent in society, this is one of those myths that make the life of patients more terrible. Most people think that mental patients are bound to live their lives the same way. They think that it’s of no use to treat or care for patients.
However, a properly designed treatment plan that includes one or more elements can help patients recover as quickly as possible. These elements are medication, therapy, counselling, lifestyle changes, and more. A customised treatment plan is usually prepared for every patient. Regardless of how old or severe a mental health illness is, it can be treated with the help of experts.
Some patients don’t show or experience symptoms of their mental health issues all the time. In such a case, they live their personal and professional life just like those who don’t have any mental disorder, except for episodic incidents. Such patients can get rid of those episodic incidents by undergoing the necessary treatment.
Those who are severely mentally ill can also get relief from symptoms after receiving treatment and care. They can start a new chapter of their life by practicing some useful habits like reading affirmations or self-care quotes every day.
Fact: Not all Mental Health Patients are Violent
Some myths and facts of mental health have a thin line between them. Considering mental health patients to be violent is one of them. In many movies and television shows, actors playing the role of a mentally disabled person are portrayed as having violent personalities. A group of mentally stable people is required for handling the patient. You must have witnessed this scenario in movies and TV shows.
But it cannot be further from the truth. Not every mentally challenged person shows violent behaviour. Patients who suffer from severe mental disorders like bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at risk of becoming violent. This risk is lower in the case of patients who are suffering from relatively less severe disorders, such as depression and panic attacks.
When it comes to perpetrating violence, people who do not suffer from any mental disease are more likely to fall in that category. It has been observed in many cases that mental health patients become victims of violence at the hands of mentally stable people around them.
Fact: Jobs Do Exist for Mental Health Patients
It’s no wonder that the majority of people feel that mental health patients are not capable of doing a job. They think that patients dealing with mental disorders cannot handle the responsibilities assigned by the employer. It’s also believed that mental health patients don’t possess the maturity to maintain harmony with their colleagues at the workplace.
However, statistics have shown that a large number of mental health patients are employed at decent positions in organisations across industries and countries. Many patients perform brilliantly and earn the respect of everyone around them.
This is one of those mental health myths that pose risk to not only the employability scenario but also the scope of improvement for mental health patients. Therefore, debunking this myth is quite important. When patients undertake job responsibilities, they stay occupied, which in turn increases the chances of their recovery and avoids the symptoms getting worse.
Fact: Mental Health Specialists Should be Consulted
One of the major reasons why mental illness is misunderstood is that many people hold the perception that any medical professional can help patients suffering from mental illnesses. When patients consult a general physician or any other medical professional who does not have expertise in providing treatment for mental disorders, they end up making their condition worse than before.
Just like consulting an orthopaedic doctor is essential for receiving any treatment for bones, consulting a mental health specialist (psychiatrist or psychologist) is essential for getting any mental disease treated. In some cases, therapists can also be consulted.
Experienced and certified professionals in the field of mental health can diagnose the patient properly to understand the root of the problem. They can choose the right methods for treating the patient. Moreover, they can provide the necessary emotional support to patients. As mental health specialists stay updated with the latest developments, patients can get benefitted from advanced treatment methods and technologies.
Fact: Friends Cannot Replace Health Professionals
Myths related to mental health include the myth that patients who have close friends or acquaintances don’t need to consult professionals. A large number of patients confide in the friends that they trust the most. They share all their thoughts and feelings with their friends.
But no number of trustworthy friends can replace the need for mental health professionals. Psychiatrists, therapists, counsellors, and other mental health specialists can offer accurate diagnosis and treatment. They undergo education and training that makes them understand the mental health problems properly. Friends can listen but cannot comprehend the problems or realise the criticalness of the situation.
On top of it, when patients share their feelings and emotions with mental health professionals, they can rest assured that their details will be kept confidential. No doubt friends and acquaintances can lend a listening ear but they cannot provide appropriate solutions.
If you think that these are the only mental health myths that make the situation of patients difficult in society, then you are wrong. We have just scratched the surface here. Many other myths also surround mental health disorders. It’s also scary how people give importance to physical health and dental health but not mental health. They keep ignoring the signs of depression, anxiety, and other disorders in not just themselves but also others around them.
Now, people often ask or wonder “how can common mental health myths be challenged?”. The simple answer to this question is to stop believing anything without concrete proof. Another way is to gain some knowledge. You can refer to online and offline sources for fulfilling this purpose. This way, you might also be able to help patients who don’t know how to get help with mental health problems.
For example, you might not know but even eating disorders are considered to be mental disorders. You can become aware of such information when you keep acquiring knowledge on a regular basis. Whenever you notice any signs of a mental illness in anyone (including yourself), take it seriously.
In order to remove the stigma related to mental health, people should steer clear of myths and stay informed about the facts. You should double-check any information or statement that you hear regarding mental health issues. When you come across a mental health patient, you should show compassion towards them instead of misunderstanding them.
We hope you would have found this blog post useful! Please share any other myth that you want to share through the comment box below.
Priya Bhagtani is a passionate content writer with an experience of more than five years in this field.