Facts and Myths About Mental Health

Over the last few years, mental health has become a hot topic of discussion. The COVID-19 pandemic really shifted the conversation on mental health and how we view mental illness — it's taken away some of the stigma, and therapy has become more popular, and even normalized. In many ways, the pandemic made it easier for more people to reach out to others for support. 

However; mental health is still widely misunderstood. There's a lot of misinformation spread within our society, which can prevent people from getting the help they need. 

In order to help combat this and educate others, we've put together some common misconceptions people make regarding mental health and what you need to know.

Myth: Having a mental illness means you are “crazy.”

Fact: To put it quite plainly, having a mental illness does not make you “crazy.” It means you're vulnerable, and that you have an illness with challenging symptoms — the same as someone with a physiological illness, like diabetes.

While mental illness might alter your thinking, destabilize your moods or skew your perception of reality, it still doesn’t mean you're “crazy.” It means you're a human being and are susceptible to illness, the same as anyone else.

Myth: Mental health problems are not that common.

Fact: Mental health problems are very common. About 1 of every 5 people will experience a mental health issue in a given year. And 1 of every 25 has a serious mental health disorder. These include anxiety, major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Myth: People with mental health issues are violent or dangerous.

Fact: A large majority of mentally ill people are not violent. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only about 3-5% of violent acts are committed by someone with symptoms of mental illness. In fact, people with serious mental health issues are 10 times more likely to be a victim of violence.

Myth: Mental health problems are a sign of weakness.

Fact: Mental illness has nothing to do with strength or weakness, it's a medical disorder that needs treatment in the same way an infection, high blood pressure, or broken bone needs treatment. If you need help with a mental issue, you're not weak. Many factors are involved in mental health, including:

Brain chemistry. The levels of different chemicals in your brain can affect how it works.
Diseases or injuries. Suffering from a long-term illness or injury can affect your mental health as well.
Life experience. This includes going through a traumatic event, or having a stressful job or home life.
Family history. Having a parent with a mental health problem could increase your risk of having one.

Myth: When someone develops a mental health problem, they will have it for the rest of their lives. They won't recover.

Fact: Mental health doesn’t stay the same — it goes up and down over the course of your life. Many factors can influence how you feel. So if any of these factors change, your mental health can change, too. With treatment, many of the problems you could develop are temporary.

A good treatment plan will help you work through the problem and recover. This doesn’t necessarily mean the problem has gone away, but you can find a way to live with it and still be a happy, productive member of society.

At the same time, feeling better might not mean you’re cured. You may have to continue with your treatment plan even after you feel better — some mental health problems never fully disappear. These usually are more serious conditions, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. But some cases of depression and anxiety are temporary and go away after treatment.

Myth: Therapy is a waste of time.

Fact: Some people just aren't comfortable with therapy. They’re afraid they’ll have to go back into their childhoods. But modern therapy is designed for the short term. It focuses on problems and solutions, and moving forward.

Research has shown that it is very effective in treating mental illness. It’s usually most effective when used in combination with medicine. Studies found that 70-90% of people reported an improvement in their symptoms when both were part of their treatment plan.

Myth: Psychiatric medications are bad.

Fact: People tend to believe that psychiatric medicine is harmful. That, or they believe that psych meds are just simply “happy pills” and “an easy way out” for those struggling with mental illness to avoid dealing with their problems. This couldn't be further from the truth.

For many with mental illness, medication is necessary, just like it would be for a diabetic taking insulin. For others, like those who have mild to moderate depression, anxiety, or ADHD, medication can help ease symptoms, so they can function normally. And having regular therapy combined with medication can greatly improve one’s quality of life.

Myth: You can’t prevent mental illness.

Fact: You can’t always prevent getting mental health problems. But you can address risk factors you or a loved one may have:

Try to minimize exposure to trauma. If you or a loved one experiences a traumatic event, get help as soon as you can. Early treatment can help prevent worse problems in the future.

Reduce stress. Having a very stressful job or home life can reduce the quality of your mental health.

Put yourself in positive situations. Try to avoid negative people. Surround yourself with healthy people with a good outlook on life who will lift you up and support you.

Establish healthy habits. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. These basic self-care methods can go a long way in how you feel about yourself and how you function in your day-to-day life.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Mental illness is nothing to be embarrassed by or ashamed of. Being aware of mental health issues and learning the truth can help you and others, and it can even save lives.

At OnSite Wellness LLC, employee health and wellness is our specialty. Incorporating an employee wellness program at your workplace can have massive benefits for your employees in tracking and managing a healthy lifestyle — we are here to help you put your employee's health first. Contact us today to get started!