Essentially, we began writing this blog in order to advocate and educate. What we have found is that there is still an astounding lack of accuracy and understanding regarding the issues surrounding mental health. This observation only reinforced our overall goal of helping to provide clarity in what can frequently be a very foggy field. With the help of the virtual online professional learning communities with whom we collaborate daily on our blog and social media platforms such as Twitter, we believe many issues are addressed and clarified. Nevertheless, while our intent is to educate and help others make sense of the often confusing nature of the “system”, the truth is that a number of false perceptions about mental health still keep popping up. These age old adages often put us at a loss for words. To put it bluntly…these are the top mental health myths that make me go…huh?
1. My Mental Health Condition Makes Me a Gifted Genius:
False. No offence, but it does not. Your positive character traits are within you already. You are not your illness.
2. Everyone With A Mental Health Condition Is Violent And Dangerous:
False. This is an absolute falsehood. The majority of violent crimes are committed by people who do not have any mental health issues. The bias slant in the media however reinforces this myth that everyone struggling with their mental health is a “ticking time bomb.”
3. Mental Health Conditions Are Not “Real” Illnesses Like Physical Conditions:
False. There are many forms of mental illness and they can be extremely complicated. According to Patrick White, a clinical professor and chair of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta, mental illnesses are real medical conditions which involve complex physiological processes, as well as changes or imbalances in the brain chemistry. It is very true that mental health disorders can really be an invisible illness.
4. Those With Mental Health Conditions Are Weak And Should Just Rise Above It:
False. This is the most common false perception that we have found. We actually find it to be quite cruel. We understand where it comes from though. This has historically been the stigma attached to mental health. We have personally found those struggling with mental health conditions are some of the strongest people we know.
5. Mental Health Conditions Do Not Get Better:
False. There is an incredible amount of research which is being conducted to help those struggling with components of mental illness. New treatments and therapies are being discovered all the time. The simple fact of the matter is that people can and do recover from mental health conditions.
6. Those With Mental Health Conditions Are A Drain On Our Public Health Resources:
False. Really? Would you say the same thing about people suffering from cancer or a chronic physical health condition? Those suffering from one or more mental illnesses deserve all the same rights, respect and resources as anyone else! Shame on those who dispute this.
7. Mental Health Is Too Dark And Complicated A Subject To Teach In School:
False. One in five children and youth struggle with mental health concerns. (National Institute of Mental Health) This fact cannot simply just be ignored. Mental health concerns start in childhood and adolescence. It has to be addressed in school so we can reduce the stigma, remove barriers and learn to identify and intervene in a timely manner for those struggling with their mental health.
So there you have it. The top mental health myths that make us go huh! There are more, but these are the ones which stand out for us. We genuinely hope that this post does not appear as overly negative. That is not our intention. In fact, quite the opposite. The article is meant to outline the many complex issues surrounding the stigma and stereotyping which surrounds all areas of mental health. Hopefully it generates discussion which can in turn bring some clarity. Please feel free to comment and send along your ideas for myths surrounding mental health which confound you!