Yesterday marked the start of Mental Illness Awareness Week: a yearly observance during which we address the stigma surrounding depression, anxiety, and other diagnoses. We hope that through our provision of insight and education on the topic of mental health, our readers feel empowered to seek care, assist their loved ones, and inform others about the realities of psychological wellbeing. Today on the blog, we are addressing five common mental illness myths.
Myth: Mental Health Problems are Rare
Fact: Mental illness is actually very common.
Many people with mental health concerns may feel that they are alone. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The CDC cites these statistics:
- More than half of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives
- One in five American adults experience mental illness in a given year
- One in ten young people experience a major depressive episode each year
- One in twenty-five Americans deal with a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder, major depression, or schizophrenia each year
These numbers mean that mental illnesses are among the most common conditions in the United States. Additionally, suicide is the tenth most prevalent cause of death in our country. With this information in mind, we should seek to dispel the misconception that mental health problems are rare; in all likelihood, many people you know are struggling in some way.
Myth: People with Mental Illness Can’t Live Normal Lives
Fact: Symptoms of mental illnesses can be managed.
With proper treatment, people with these diagnoses can live happy, healthy lives. Medication can remediate neurochemical imbalances which contribute to low mood or an inability to pay attention. Additionally, therapy can help individuals to analyze past trauma, navigate obstacles, and improve one’s quality of life.
In fact, you probably know several people dealing with diagnoses of their own. You simply may not have noticed it, as many individuals with these problems are active, productive members of our communities.
Myth: Mental Illness is Dangerous
Fact: People with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violence than the perpetrators.
Stigma is a powerful influence in our society. For example, America is a country which often experiences violent events; each time, the media is quick to point to criminals as mentally disturbed. However, only 5% of violent crimes in the US are committed by people with a serious mental illness. The flawed perception of mental illness being synonymous with danger contributes to heightened stigma for those with a diagnosis, which in turn contributes to non-disclosure of the condition and reduced rates of treatment. The vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent.
Myth: PTSD Only Happens to Soldiers
Fact: Anyone can have PTSD.
All of us will experience some amount of trauma in our lives. Common traumas include the death of a loved one, the end of a significant relationship, a serious injury, the diagnosis of a chronic illness, survival of a natural disaster, being the victim of a crime, or domestic abuse (verbal or physical). Witnessing someone else’s experience of a violent or physical threat can also create lifelong trauma. Symptoms include nightmares, anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks of the event(s), avoiding “triggers,” and reacting as if the event is reoccurring. If you (or someone you love) are dealing with these symptoms, we encourage you to seek professional help for PTSD.
Myth: There is No Hope for Those with Mental Health Problems
Fact: Research shows that people with mental illnesses get better and may completely recover.
The word “recovery” refers to the process in which those with these diagnoses are able to live, learn, work, and participate fully in their lives again. In 2020, there are more treatments and community support systems available than ever before, and they work.
At Lakeside-Milam, we provide comprehensive mental health treatment on an outpatient basis. Our array of groundbreaking therapies and evidence-based approaches help to resolve the symptoms of mental illness. For most people, the combination of medication, therapy, and peer support can be incredibly impactful. Our solution-focused treatment includes mental health evaluations, individual and group sessions, relationship counseling, and case management services for our dual diagnosis patients.
Observe Mental Illness Awareness Week
We hope that you join us in celebrating this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week. There are many steps that you can take, either as a person dealing with a diagnosis or a loved one hoping to help a parent, sibling, child, or friend to seek help.
To get involved, please mark these events on your calendar:
- Tuesday, 10/6: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
- Thursday, 10/8: National Depression Screening Day
- Saturday, 10/10: World Mental Health Day
- Saturday, 10/10: NAMIWalks National Day of Hope
You may also share statistics, videos, and graphics compiled by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Click here to view them.
Finally, the help of friends and family can be an important tool in helping a person to get the treatment they need. If your loved one needs assistance with a mental illness, you can lend them a hand by:
- Reaching out and telling them you are there for them
- Finding an appropriate mental health service provider for them
- Dispelling myths about mental illness and its symptoms
- Treating them respectfully, just as you would anyone else
- Sharing the facts about mental health
- Avoiding labels like “crazy” and refusing to define them by their diagnosis
For more information about mental illness and its treatment, contact Lakeside-Milam today.