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Most Common Myths and Misconceptions about Mental Health

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By Augustine Mbam - - 5 Mins Read
The concept of mental health and mental illnesses has been taboo for ages. Only in the last few years have discussions about the subject started publicly. Today, we’re at a point where everyone talks about it openly, which is great for us as a society.   However, the downside is that the facts get lost amidst opinions, personal stories, debates, and discussions. As a result, misconceptions about the subject are easily instilled in people. While there are numerous myths, here are people's most common misconceptions about mental health and mental illnesses.

People Suffering from Mental Illness are Violent

People tend to associate mental illnesses with violence. This is especially true if one talks about patients who have schizophrenia. However, in reality, very few schizophrenic people are violent.   While some people tend to be violent if they have bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, or certain other diseases, it isn’t always the case. In fact, the relationship between a mental health condition and violent or unpredictable behavior has been researched by numerous academicians.   This myth is formed due to hearsay or depiction of certain characters in movies and TV shows. However, as the awareness about the subject spreads, the myth seems to fade away from discussions, which is a good sign.

People with Mental Health Challenges Can’t Hold Down a Job

This is one of the most common myths propagated in various circles. It isn’t true. People with mental illnesses can hold down to their jobs and be as productive and prompt as those without them.   Once again, there are people with severe conditions who might not be able to, but it also depends on whether a person is getting treated for their illness or not. Furthermore, people tend to see mental health challenges as absolutes when, in reality, it is a spectrum.   Different people fall into different places within the spectrum. Their condition, intensity, and other factors determine how well they keep a job and stay consistent.

Addiction is a Reflection of a Lack of Willpower

This statement isn’t true. Even today, there are debates about drug and alcohol addictions and how much blame must the people carry. One of the most common arguments for people who aren’t well-read on this subject is that they didn’t have enough willpower.   To begin with, experts who have done an in-depth studying of the conditions identify drug abuse and similar addictions as chronic diseases. Furthermore, some studies show how the rehabilitation of an addicted person is not dependent solely or predominantly on their willpower.   One of the major determining factors for rehabilitation is the strategy and the environment created for the person’s well-being. Numerous experts have researched and studied this subject and formed the above consensus.

Teenagers do not Have Mental Health Issues

This is yet again a persistent myth that we hear about teenagers who are also prone to mental health issues. While another common myth is that it is most likely due to bad parenting, it isn’t the case. The cause of a mental health condition involves numerous factors, and parenting is not the predominant one. However, deeming that teens cannot have mental illnesses is not a good thing because the person might then have to grow with it, and later on, treating it would be even more difficult.   So, being aware of teens' moods, prevailing mindset, and behavior will help identify if the child needs professional help for their mental health.

Mental Health Conditions are a Sign of Weakness

The last misconception on this list is perhaps the most widely accepted one. People genuinely believe that mental health conditions are a sign of weakness. Had the person been ‘stronger,’ they wouldn’t have been affected by the illness. This is far from the truth. Mental strength, in general, is not quantified by the general public, and the way they measure it is often incorrect. Furthermore, mental illnesses can affect almost anybody. In fact, studies show that people would go through some form of mental health challenge at least once in their lifetime.   So, it isn’t a sign of weakness, but like every issue, it has various nuances that common people fail to grasp.   These are the most common misconceptions and myths about mental health. But don’t stop with this. Try to read more and be more aware. You don’t have to seek it out constantly.   But every time you come across a person with a condition, know that there might be things you wouldn’t know about it, irrespective of how much you’ve read about it. This humility helps with actions that are more empathetic and hence help people suffering from any form of mental health condition. So let’s be more informed and kinder.