Myths & Facts About Mental Health
Often people are afraid to talk about mental health because there are many misconceptions about mental illnesses. It's important to learn the facts to stop discrimination and to begin treating people with mental illnesses with respect and dignity.
Here are some common myths and facts about mental health.
Myth: There's no hope for people with mental illnesses.
are more treatments, strategies, and community supports than ever before, and
even more are on the horizon. People with mental illnesses
lead active, productive lives.
Myth: I can't do anything for someone with mental health needs.
Fact: You can do a lot, starting with the way you act and how you speak.
You can nurture an environment that builds on people's strengths and promotes
good mental health. For example:
- Avoid labeling people with words like "crazy," "wacko," "loony," or by
their diagnosis. Instead of saying someone is a "schizophrenic" say "a person
- Learn the facts about mental health and share them with others, especially
if you hear something that is untrue.
- Treat people with mental illnesses with respect and dignity, as you would
- Respect the rights of people with mental illnesses and don't discriminate
against them when it comes to housing, employment, or education. Like
other people with disabilities, people with mental health needs are protected
Federal and State laws.
Myth: People with mental illnesses are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: In reality, the vast majority of people who have mental health needs
are no more violent than anyone else. You probably know someone with a mental
illness and don't even realize it.
Myth: Mental illnesses cannot affect me.
Fact: Mental illnesses are surprisingly common; they affect
almost every family in America. Mental illnesses do not discriminate-they
can affect anyone.
Myth: Mental illness is the same as mental retardation.
two are distinct disorders. A mental retardation diagnosis is
characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and difficulties
with certain daily living skills. In contrast, people with mental illnesses-health
conditions that cause changes in a person's thinking, mood, and behavior-have
varied intellectual functioning, just like the general population.
Myth: Mental illnesses are brought on by a weakness of character.
illnesses are a product of the interaction of biological, psychological,
and social factors. Research has shown genetic and biological
factors are associated with schizophrenia, depression, and alcoholism.
Social influences, such as loss of a loved one or a job, can also contribute
development of various disorders.
Myth: People with mental illnesses cannot tolerate the stress of holding
down a job.
Fact: In essence, all jobs are stressful to some extent. Productivity is
maximized when there is a good match between the employee's needs and working
conditions, whether or not the individual has mental health needs.
Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who have received
effective treatment and have recovered, tend to be second-rate workers on
who have hired people with mental illnesses report good attendance and
punctuality, as well as motivation, quality of work, and job
tenure on par with or greater than other employees. Studies by the National
Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Alliance for the Mentally
Ill (NAMI) show that there are no differences in productivity when people
with mental illnesses are compared to other employees.
Myth: Once people develop mental illnesses, they will never recover.
Fact: Studies show that most people with mental illnesses get better, and
many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people
are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities.
For some individuals, recovery is the ability to live a fulfilling and productive
life. For others, recovery implies the reduction or complete remission of
symptoms. Science has shown that having hope plays an integral role in an
and self-help are wastes of time. Why bother when you can just take one of
those pills you hear about on TV?
Fact: Treatment varies depending on the individual. A lot of people work
with therapists, counselors, their peers, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses,
and social workers in their recovery process. They also use self-help strategies
and community supports. Often these methods are combined with some of the
most advanced medications available.
Myth: Children do not experience mental illnesses. Their actions are
just products of bad parenting.
report from the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health showed
that in any given year 5-9 percent of children experience serious emotional
disturbances. Just like adult mental illnesses, these are clinically diagnosable
health conditions that are a product of the interaction of biological,
psychological, social, and sometimes even genetic factors.
Myth: Children misbehave or fail in school just to get attention.
Fact: Behavior problems can be symptoms of emotional, behavioral, or mental
disorders, rather than merely attention-seeking devices. These children can
succeed in school with appropriate understanding, attention, and mental health
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