Mental health disorders affect millions of people around the world every year. Mental illness can range in severity and usually has a big impact on someone’s day to day life. Unfortunately, over the years there have been many misconceptions about mental illness. These myths not only affect the people suffering from these disorders but affects the way society treats them. 

Myths about mental illness have been spread and have hurt people and policies alike. In our society, there is a negative stigma when it comes to mental illness. Over the years, more and more resources (like this one) have emerged to debunk these myths about mental illness. There is always more to the story. Reaching out for help should never be looked down upon. 

Today we’ll be taking a look at some of the common misconceptions about mental illness. Being informed and doing your research is the primary way to understand mental illnesses. As complex of an issue as mental illness is, it’s important to know that help is always available. Unity Behavioral Health and other centers are always available. We welcome all and you should never be afraid or embarrassed to get help. 

The Negative Stigma of Mental Illness 

There are multiple misconceptions about mental illness that create a very negative stigma about these serious disorders. While many may feel that something must be wrong with you if you have a mental illness, this is simply not the case. Many may also try to question the success rate of mental illness (and addiction) treatment. The numbers are much higher than what people speculate. 

News outlets and media tend to spread these misconceptions about mental illness. Mental illness is usually shown in a negative light and only seeks to spread these myths. From the early 2000s to recent years, media has always focused on the violent and negative results of mental illness. This completely simplifies the complex issues with mental illness and completely ignores the spread of information, more specifically, treatment. 

The Stats

It’s important for individuals to become more knowledgeable about some of the aspects of mental illness. To truly understand the whole picture, you have to know about the specific conditions and the numbers as well. The numbers paint a different story from what many mental illness stigmas try to say. Some noteworthy stats about mental illness include the following:

  • Mental health is not a black or white ordeal. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, only around 17% of adults have ‘optimal’ mental health.
  • Only around 7.5% of crimes are the direct cause of a mental illness. This is contrary to the belief that people who suffer from mental illness are dangerous.
  • It is said that upwards of 70% of people suffering from mental illness experience relief frmyths about mental illnessom their symptoms after therapy and medication (in tangent with each other). 

There is much evidence to disprove some misconceptions about mental illness in the United States and around the globe. It doesn’t take much digging to find that these myths are not true. If you or a loved one is suffering from mental illness, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. At Unity, we welcome everyone with open arms. We understand that mental illnesses can be a crippling situation for you and your loved ones, just know, you are not alone. 

Common Forms of Mental Illness

Mental illnesses cover a wide range of disorders and can be painful and stressful to deal with. Every year millions of people suffer from various mental health illnesses. To truly understand what people with mental illnesses are experiencing, it’s important to know the different types. Some of the most common forms include the following:

    • Anxiety Disorders: Persistent fear of daily/non-threatening situations, to the point where their daily behavior and life are affected
    • Bipolar Disorder: Severe shifts in mood (high and low moods including manic episodes)
    • Depression: Long periods where a person’s mood shifts to negative and hopeless feelings (motivation and other behavior changes)
    • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Intense trouble staying on task and maintaining focus 
  • Schizophrenia: A severe impact on a person’s ability to think and changes in how they interact with others. This disorder results in someone losing touch with reality and others because of severe delusions/hallucinations. 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Stress and symptoms caused by a traumatic event (sexual abuse, war, abuse, etc.) 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Obsessive and repetitive thoughts and behaviors that determine how someone acts and feels on a day-to-day basis
  • Dissociative Disorder: This disorder is typically associated with trauma, it affects all areas of a person’s psychological functioning
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): When someone experiences instability in their emotions. This causes struggles in interpersonal relationships, impulsivity, and self-image. 

Debunking the Myths about Mental Illness

Let’s take a look at some of the false myths about mental illness and uncover the true story. It’s important to be aware of these misconceptions so you can view mental illness in a more optimistic and helpful light. Many people may be embarrassed or hesitant to get help because of these negative stigmas. However, nothing should hold you back from getting the help you deserve and need. 

Myth: If you have a mental illness, it means you are ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’. 

This is a common idea that media, TV, and films often circulate. The reality is that having a mental illness does not mean you are ‘crazy’. Those suffering from mental illnesses are often vulnerable and experience symptoms just like a psychical illness. While some illnesses can change your perception or behavior, this does not mean you are ‘insane’. Some are more susceptible to illnesses or sickness and they should be viewed in a negative light.

Myth: People struggling with mental illness may be dangerous/violent.

Many people are quick to point the blame for crimes or mass shootings towards mental illness. While mental illnesses have specific reality alternating effects, this does not mean a person is violent. Violent acts are done through hatred and other reasons; hate is not a mental illness. The stats also paint a completely different picture – only around 5% of violent crimes are done by people with a mental illness (in the United States). The sad reality is the contrary; those with mental illnesses are usually the victims of violence. 

Myth: Mental illnesses last forever.

Yes, there are certain mental health disorders are schizophrenia and other disorders) but almost all cases of mental illness are treatable. With a combination of therapy and medication, a person can relieve some of the life-affecting symptoms. Working effectively and getting the right treatment can set you up for a happier life down the line. Having a mental illness is not the end of your journey. 

Myth: Mental illness is a sign of weakness.

Mental illness is not a sign of weakness. Mental illness is also not the same thing as mental strength. Anyone can be diagnosed with a mental illness and it is almost always not of their own doing. Many people are born with a mental disorder or end up developing one overtime. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite, many people struggling with mental illness are extremely strong and capable. 

Reaching Out for Mental Health Treatment and Support

Now that we’ve debunked some of the popular myths about mental illness, let’s take a look at mental health treatment. Reaching out for help is nothing to be ashamed of and it should be encouraged. Raising awareness and being aware of some of the treatment options can make all the difference. One step at a time we can eliminate the negative stigma surrounding mental illness and getting proper help. 

Mental illness treatment comes in several different forms and can be the key to a better life down the line. Centers like Unity Behavioral Health offer individualized and personalized therapy to cope with some of the symptoms of mental illness. Here’s a look at some of the common forms of treatment when it comes to mental illness recovery:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This is one of the most common types of treatment and is used for a wide variety of mental illnesses and therapy. The goal of CBT is to change how a person thinks about their world and behaves. 
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) – DBT is another common form of therapy that teaches a person how to deal with stressful situations and cope with their feelings. It improves a person’s self-image and can be extremely beneficial for addiction/mental illness treatment.
  • Medication Assistance – Medication can help treat some of the symptoms of mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. These are carefully administered and can help in tangent with therapy.

Unity Behavioral Health is Here for You

Misconceptions of mental illness have given a bad rep to getting proper help. At Unity, we welcome all those suffering from addiction or mental illnesses. You are not alone in your journey and we want to help you towards a brighter future. Contact us today for more information on our programs and mental health resources. 

References:

www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/events/science-writers-boot-camp/_docs/myths-and-misconceptions-about-mental-health-and-addiction.pdf

www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2019/Six-Myths-and-Facts-about-Mental-Illness

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