Myths Surrounding Mental Illness
Its 2018, mental health awareness is on the rise equipped with camps, workshops and general education and yet, stigmas and myths still surround it, stronger than ever before. These mental health stereotypes have existed since the beginning to time itself and thus, they are still observed to be quite strong in certain areas as they are deep rooted in our culture.
We are very well familiar with the stigmas, myths and stereotypes from our own personal experience in social settings. In this article today, lets take a look at some of these myths alongside their facts:
- Myths & Facts About Mental Illness
- Myth #1: “Mental Illnesses Aren’t Real Illnesses”
- Myth #2: “I can never be a victim of mental illnesses”
- Myth #3: “Mental illnesses are just excuses for corrupt behavior”
- Myth #4: “Mental illnesses are a product of bad parenting”
- Myth #5: “Mentally ill people are violent, dangerous and unpredictable”
- Myth #6: “There is no recovery from a mental illness”
- Myth #7: “Mentally ill people are weak and incapable of handling stress”
- Myth #8: “Depression is an adult illness – kids can’t have it”
Myths & Facts About Mental Illness
Myth #1: “Mental Illnesses Aren’t Real Illnesses”
Take a look at the following conversation:
“Mark, why didn’t you complete your homework?”
“Sorry, Ma’am, but I was feeling quite depressed last night and was unable to concentrate and complete it.”
“That’s not an excuse. You have detention and double homework for today.”
Does this conversation ring a bell? Does this conversation seem quite likely to have taken place? Now lets take a look at a different scenario:
“Arthur, why didn’t you complete your homework?”
“Sorry, Ma’am, but I broke my arm and the pain made it impossible for me to concentrate and complete my homework.”
“So sorry to hear that. Hope you are feeling better today!”
The reason for the different reactions of the teacher in both of these cases is that mental illness are not considered as “real” illnesses as they do not have the physical proof and thus, common logic of people compels them to believe that there isn’t any illness. However, the fact is that mental illnesses are just as real and critical as physical illnesses.
Myth #2: “I can never be a victim of mental illnesses”
In accordance with the stereotypes and stigmas surrounding mental illness, a laymen believes that mental illnesses are something out of the world and quite unlikely. This mindset forces them to believe that they will never fall victim to such a “rare” spectrum of illnesses. However, recent researches suggest that:
- One in every five Americans experience some mental illness.
- One in even ten youngsters experience a period of major depression.
- One in every twenty-five Americans have lived with serious and critical mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.
Myth #3: “Mental illnesses are just excuses for corrupt behavior”
Here is a great message to understand and remember about mental health: Mental illnesses are an explanation of behavior, never an excuse.
It’s true, when a person is mentally ill, they perform socially unacceptable tasks and indulge in socially unacceptable activities. However, we must remember that most of the times, these individuals are helpless against an illness. Furthermore, through the advert psychology and mental health awareness, a person’s illness can be diagnosed and treated for, as the mental illness explains the behavior. But everyone must remember that psychologists, psychotherapist and psychiatrists do not, under any circumstance, excuse a mentally ill person’s behavior – they just explain it.
Myth #4: “Mental illnesses are a product of bad parenting”
While its true that parents play the primary role in the adaptation of our base personality, there are other factors as well, like the environment. Mental illnesses are not solely a product of bad parenting. While some of the most extreme mental illnesses originate from childhood experiences, its not the same case for all. Mental illnesses can be caused from anywhere, at anytime, to anyone and for any reason.
Myth #5: “Mentally ill people are violent, dangerous and unpredictable”
This myth has existed for centuries and the common media, movies and TV shows keep reinforcing this idea. In most movies and entertainment shows, we observe mental illness as being that one big and scary mental asylum, with mentally ill people walking around with creepy smiles and behaving like they will destroy the Earth in a matter of minutes. However, recent researches suggest that only about 3 to 5% of mentally ill people have contributed to the world’s violence. In reality, mentally ill people are more likely to be a victim of violence than being violent themselves.
Myth #6: “There is no recovery from a mental illness”
We don’t expect ourselves to treat a person with a broken leg the same even long after their leg has healed, yet we disregard this common sense and rule when it come to mental illnesses. A previously mentally ill person will be treated the same by their colleagues and family members even long after they have recovered as another stigma that surrounds mental health is that people never recover. In fact, the truth is that, now the field of psychology has reached new heights and new methods of diagnosis, treatments, services and supports and coming into view for each and every individual. A steady and effective recovery from a mental illness is now highly likely and possible.
Myth #7: “Mentally ill people are weak and incapable of handling stress”
A toxic mindset has been reinforced to us since childhood which basically states that a strong person never asks for help or shows weakness. Recent studies suggest that its actually quite the opposite: A strong person is someone who recognizes when they need help and goes forward to attain it, as opposed to a person who hides it away. Recent researches also suggest that mentally ill people are not only strong, but they have a better capability of handling stress and stressful situations.
Myth #8: “Depression is an adult illness – kids can’t have it”
Perceive a kid who states that they have depression. A layman would laugh it off and say something like, “you don’t have anything to be depressed about”. This is quite a toxic myth as it invalidates kids with depression and other mental illnesses. Mental illnesses can very much affect kids, in fact, most mental illnesses first appear in a person’s childhood. However, due to this myth, many children are unable to receive the help and treatment that they deserve.
These were some of the most common myths, stereotypes and stigmas that have surrounded mental illness for centuries. Together, lets educate ourselves and those around us in order to build a better and happier world for those suffering from these illnesses!