As a people, if we don’t truly understand something – sometimes we stigmatize it. That is the case with mental illness and mental health. Often, the issues are not well understood, which can lead to fear, shame, and labels. Unless your family has been touched directly by mental illness, you often make assumptions that are not based on fact, but more myth or stereotypes.
We are here to bust some common myths. These contradictions to popular beliefs are backed by experts, research, and scientific study.
Myth #1 – Mental illness will never affect me
The math is clear that all of us will be affected by mental illness at some point in our lifetime. If it isn’t us directly, it’s a friend or loved one. Statistics say that 1 in 5 of us in North America will suffer from some kind of mental illness.
Myth #2 – Bad parenting causes mental illness
It’s important to understand that no single factor causes mental illness. Mental illnesses are complicated conditions that arise from a combination of genetics, biology, environment, and life experiences.
Myth #3 – People with mental illness are violent and dangerous
Myth #4 – People who experience mental illness are weak and can’t handle stress
This new mantra of resilience is feeding into a new norm of what is an acceptable level of stress in our daily lives – and not for the better! People who experience mental illnesses may actually be better at managing stress than people who haven’t experienced mental illnesses. Many people who experience mental illnesses learn stress management techniques as part of their therapy. And let’s be perfectly clear: taking care of yourself and asking for help when you need it are signs of strength, not weakness.
Myth #5 – Mental illness isn’t a real ‘illness’
Untrue. Mental illnesses are not the regular ups and downs of life. Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety create distress, don’t go away on their own, and are real health problems that have effective medical treatments. When someone breaks their arm, we wouldn’t expect them to just “get over it.” Nor would we blame them if they needed a cast, sling, or other help in their daily life while they recovered.
This month we challenge ourselves to ‘Be Better’ for Mental Health Awareness. Let’s do our part in removing the stigma of weakness around asking for needed help and embracing treatment and support as a medical requirement – like any other physical illness.
Still not convinced on the prevalence of this issue? Below is a helpful infographic outlining the impact, cost, and consequences of this major public issue in North America.