This April 1st, make sure you’re not a fool when it comes to mental health – read on to see if you’ve been taken in by the five biggest and most damaging misconceptions about mental health…
1) “You’re either mentally ill or mentally healthy – there’s no in-between.”
Just as a physically healthy person may occasionally get the flu or a sprained ankle, most of us experience emotional problems even if we are generally mentally healthy. Mental health is a continuum, not something you either have or don’t have. Figures from campaign group Time to Change show that 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in any given year.
2) “People with mental illnesses are violent – we should be scared of them.”
Unfortunately, the media still tends to highlight mental health in relation to violence and crime, creating an incorrect perception that people with a mental health issue are more likely to be dangerous. In fact, people who struggle with their mental health are much more likely to endanger themselves than others.
3) “People with mental health issues can never hold down a job.”
Just as with any other health condition, with the right support from their friends and colleagues, people with mental health problems are as productive as any other employees. Employers who hire people with mental health problems consistently report good attendance and punctuality, motivation, and good quality work. There are many examples of highly successful people who achieve their career goals while managing anxiety, depression and countless other conditions.
4) “People with mental health problems could snap out of it if they tried hard enough.”
One of the most damaging myths about mental illness is that it isn’t real – that people are just lazy or weak. This certainly isn’t true; lots of factors contribute to mental health problems, including our genes or brain chemistry, physical illness, injury, and our life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse. People with mental health problems can get better and live a fulfilling life, but just like a physical injury, it requires support and treatment beyond simply ‘pulling themselves together.’ Would you tell someone with a broken leg to ‘just snap out of it’?
5) “Therapy and treatment is a waste of time; it doesn’t ever help.”
If you are mentally unwell and feeling hopeless, it can be all too easy to listen to people who say that getting treatment won’t work – let alone getting the motivation to get out and keep your appointments at a therapy session or group. Treatment and recovery is different for everyone, and most people need to try a few methods to find out what combination works for them – but with professional help to understand what is causing the issues and learn how to deal with the effects, most people can learn how to manage a condition on a daily basis. If someone has a broken leg you can see that they have an injury, and can see when they have their cast removed. But does this mean they have recovered? Many people require physiotherapy to continue the healing process, just as some people need a bit of professional support to monitor and maintain positive mental health.
MHM provide a range of different mental health support services across the country; click here to find out more.