While stigma surrounding mental health continues to dissipate, there are still many misconceptions surrounding the topic. Some of the most common mental health myths include the following.
Top Mental Health Myths & Misconceptions:
- You’re the Only One Dealing With Mental Health Problems – Many individuals feel as though their problems are unique to themselves and that no one else could possibly understand what they are experiencing. This is a common feeling among those dealing with mental health issues like anxiety or depression and goes hand-in-hand with symptoms like isolation and feelings of loneliness. The reality is that many individuals are dealing with some type of mental health related issue. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness each year. You are not alone and someone you know is likely to also be dealing with mental health struggles.
- Mental Health Issues Make You Weak – Those managing the feelings that come with mental health related issues often feel like they are lacking strength to deal with their problems. This mindset is rooted in stigma and is not true. Many mental health issues are beyond a person’s control, and strength has nothing to do with it. You are not weak if you have a mental health condition.
- You Have Friends/Family, So You Don’t Need a Therapist – While friends and family can be a great resource for support while you navigate life’s great difficulties, they are not mental health professionals and cannot take the place of one. You need someone who is trained in this field and can teach you important interventions and introduce you to useful tools that can help you manage your symptoms. Trying to replace a therapist with a friend or family member will only hurt both you and that person in the long-run.
- Children Don’t Experience Mental Health Issues – While children are diagnosed less often than adults with mental health conditions, children do still experience them. Half of all mental health disorders show their first signs before the age of 14.
- Everyone Has Access to a Mental Health Provider – One of the largest stigmas against people dealing with mental health conditions is that “they could get help if they really needed it.” The truth is that a huge number of US citizens lack access to a provider. Whether they lack coverage, don’t have internet access or live nowhere near a provider, it is not as simple as just going and getting help.
- Individuals with Mental Health Issues Have Something Wrong with Them – Stigma tells us that those with conditions have something wrong with them. That they are damaged people who are maybe not normal and don’t fit in. The reality is that some of the most normal and functional people still have mental health conditions that you may not be aware of.
- If You Didn’t Like One Therapist, Then Therapy Doesn’t Work – Sometimes one patient-provider relationship isn’t the right fit. This doesn’t mean that therapy doesn’t work for you. This just means you might need to try another provider until you find one you feel comfortable with.
- All Mental Health Problems Are Permanent – Some mental health conditions are lifelong, but many are not. With the right care and attention from a provider, individuals can work their way through their condition and find their way out of it in time. For example, someone with severe, unmanaged anxiety can learn coping skills and grounding techniques that help them manage their symptoms and lead a relatively normal life.
- There Are No Preventative Measures People Can Take To Avoid Mental Health Struggles – While not all mental health conditions are preventable, some are. We cannot always avoid life’s hardships and challenges, but choices can be made to avoid potentially negative/damaging situations, people, and experiences when possible. For example, if someone’s job is a source of severe anxiety for them, they may be able to leave that job for one that causes them less stress.
- You Have To Deal With Your Symptoms On Your Own – This is never the case. Even if someone does not have a support network of friends and family, there is always a mental health provider around the corner ready to help. A mental health professional can help you manage your symptoms and find solutions that work for you. There are even mental health apps designed to help people navigate their conditions.
- Mental Health Medications Are Only For Really Troubled People – Stigma surrounding mental health still impacts how people view mental health medications today. They are viewed as necessary only for people with severe conditions. In reality, many people benefit from the use of mental health medications for conditions like depression or anxiety and they should not be avoided if they could be helpful.
- Your Struggles Are Not Bad Enough To Warrant The Help Of A Professional – Even people without mental health conditions can benefit from the help of a mental health professional. Everyone experiences hardship. Whether or not that leads to a condition will vary, but attending therapy or counseling is a great way to ensure you learn healthy coping strategies and techniques to manage your mental health both now and in the future. There is no bar for how bad someone’s mental health has to be for them to qualify for the help of a mental health professional.