Debunking 11 Common Myths Around Mental Health

3.Myth:  Once you are diagnosed with a mental illness you are ill for lifetime.

Fact:

Many support groups and communities are coming forward to help people with mental illnesses seek the kind of treatment best suited for them, ranging from disorder specific treatment strategies including medication or psychotherapies which includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy etc. 

With a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports, between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have a significant reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life.(6) Therefore, complete recovery from mental illness is absolutely possible.

 

4. Myth: As a layman, I cannot do anything for people with mental health care needs.

Fact:

Absolutely a wrong idea! It does not take you to be a mental health care professional to provide a basic nurturing environment for people with mental health care needs to sustain a good mental health. You can contribute to it by changing the way you speak of and view mental health illnesses.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Straightaway avoid labeling people with words like “psycho”, “mad”, “insane”, “crazy,”, “wacko” “loony,” or by their diagnosis. Instead of saying someone is a “schizophrenic” say “a person with schizophrenia.” Remember that an individual has an identity beyond their diagnosis.
  • Treat people with mental illnesses with equal dignity and respect as you would treat other people.
  • Share your knowledge about mental illnesses with other people and correct them if they believe or promote something untrue.
  • Do not discriminate against people with mental illnesses regarding social interactions, housing, education and employment. Respect their rights and help them understand that like other people, the state protects their needs, laws and rights.
  • If you find anyone making fun of people who need mental health care, immediately protest or take other steps against them.

 

5. Myth: Mental illness is the same as mental retardation.

Fact:

No. They are not. These are two completely distinct conditions.

A diagnosis of mental retardation is characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and difficulties with certain daily living skills.

In contrast, people with mental illness have varied intellectual functioning, just like the general population but have mild to severe disturbances in thought, mood  and behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with daily life’s demands and routines.

 

6. Myth: Therapies and self help are a waste of time with no good outcomes.

Fact:

Treatment is very individualistic as is the suffering. The choice of treatment strategies depend on a number of factors. Different mental illnesses respond differently to different methods of treatments which means not all mental disorder have the same recovery rate with the same treatment strategy.

There is a strong evidence supporting the fact that OCD has a high recovery rate when treated with ERP- Exposure and Response Prevention (a part of Cognitive Behavior Therapy) alongside medication (if need be). 

Drugs is not always the best option; it might provide immediate relief but not with long term benefits. 

Lot of people reply on working with psychologists, psychoanalysts, therapists and counselors to recover from various mental disorders.

 

7. Myth: Mental illness in people are brought about by the weakness in their characters.

Fact:

Mental illnesses have nothing to do with ‘weaknesses in character’. Mental disorders are brought about by the interactions of different factors- biological, psychological and social factors rather than by one’s character being flawed.

Situational incidents like the loss of job, loss of a loved one, separation, divorce etc can also lead to the development of mental health problems. 

Shreyasi Debnath
An editor and writer keeping keen interest in painting, creative writing and reading. I did my Masters in Clinical and Counselling Psychology and have been a counselling psychologist at a primary school for the past 1 year. I love doing absolutely anything that mends a mind and soothes a soul. Most often than not, I ponder over to come up with poems. A wandering soul in search for meaning.

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