Mental Health Myths Debunked

The subject of mental health to society is currently heavily stereotyped, due to social standards, misinformation, and lack of conversation. One of the first steps in coming forward as a society to understand mental health begins with recognizing and addressing the current misconceptions. Look at this list and think about how many you previously believed- it’s okay if it’s a lot! I personally thought many of these too, but it is through being vulnerable and understanding of our own shortcomings that we will grow to be able to support one another more. 

Myth: People with mental health problems can “snap out of it” if they try hard rough

Fact: Mental health problems are caused by many inevitable factors such as:

  1. Biological factors- genes, physical illness, injury, brain chemistry
  2. Life experiences- trauma, abuse, etc.
  3. Family history of mental health problems (Mentalhealth.gov, 2017)

Takeaway: Having poor mental health disorders isn’t a choice.  People with mental health problems aren’t seeking attention. It is nearly impossible to just “snap out of it” and choose to feel a certain way. It is nearly impossible to just “snap out of it” and choose to feel a certain way.

Myth: I can’t do anything to help someone with severe mental health problems because I’m not a professional and could “mess up”. 

Fact: It is statistically proven that support from loved ones makes a big difference in the mental health of someone affected. Be sure to take a look at our article written by Pranay ___ which provides ideas for how we can support our loved ones during these trying times. Furthermore, mentalhealth.gov recommends the following methods:

  • Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
  • Helping them access mental health services (check out our resources!) 
  • Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn’t true
  • Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
  • Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as “crazy” (mentalhealth.gov, 2017)

Takeaway: Even if you don’t think so, you can make such a difference in the lives of your loved ones. Make sure to actively reach out to them and provide them with what you can. 

Myth: Prevention of mental health disorders isn’t possible.

Fact: Understanding the risk factors of mental health problems and aiming to minimize them from an early age is effective in prevention of disorders, as well as increasing productivity, increased quality of life, increased life span, and much more. While some risk factors are static, such as genetics and family history, other risk factors, such as exposure to trauma, can be minimalized (mentalhealth.gov, 2017)

Myth: Seeking help will lead to me being ostracized.

Fact: It is understandably difficult to reach out to get help, but do not let that fear stop you. Seeking help is doing yourself a huge favor and will let you grow, reduce stigma surrounding mental health, and increase awareness. Not only are you helping yourself, but you are also helping others. (NAMI, 2019)

Takeaway: Do NOT let anyone else’s perception get in your way of seeking the help you need. You are not crazy, you are simply going through a difficult time- and getting help is OKAY.

Myth: People with mental illnesses are violent and dangerous.

Fact: Actually the opposite. People with mental illness are actually more likely to be victims of violence than violent themselves. (NAMI, 2019)

Takeaway: We can’t label people who commit crime as “mentally ill”, nor should “mentally ill” people be stereotyped as violent. 

Myth: Those with mental illness are “crazy”. 

Fact: Those who have mental illness are not crazy, they are simply going through an illness with challenging symptoms. Although the effects of mental illness (decreased appetite, mood instability, etc.) may make one feel “crazy” they are not by any means. (NAMI, 2019)

Takeaway: Those with mental illness are humans experiencing a difficult time and in no other way lesser or different from those without mental illness. 

Works Cited

Mentalhealth.gov. (2017, August 29). Mental Health Myths and Facts.

     Mentalhealth.gov. Retrieved August 6, 2020, from

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/mental-health-myths-facts

Ross, S. L. (2019, October 1). Six Myths and Facts about Mental Illness.

     National Alliance on Mental Illness Blog. https://www.nami.org/Blogs/

     NAMI-Blog/October-2019/Six-Myths-and-Facts-about-Mental-Illness

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