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16 Mental Health Myths and the Facts You Should Know.

mental health myths and facts oasis

Table of Contents

Summary

Learn the truth about the most common mental health myths!

MYTH

Mental Health Problems Won’t Affect Me

FACT

1 in 5 teens, ages 12-18, suffer from a mental health disorder serious enough to impact their daily activities.

The most common conditions are anxiety disorders (32%), behavior disorders (19%), mood disorders (14%), and substance use disorders (11%). If you are suffering from any mental health disorder, know that you are not alone and it is okay to get help!

MYTH

Personality Weakness or Character Flaws Cause Mental Health Problems

FACT

Mental Health Problems Have Nothing to do with Being Lazy or Weak. Many Factors Contribute to Mental Health Problems.

Family History & Biology:

Having a parent or an immediate family member that suffers from a mental health problem, increases your risk of developing one. Some people also have low dopamine levels which can contribute to some mental health issues. ⠀

Your Environment:

Your home-life, neighborhood, and school environment can affect how you feel and contribute to mental health issues.⠀

Life Events:

Dealing with high-stress situations like a death, loss of a relationship, a big move, divorce, poverty, or homelessness can lead to mental health problems.

MYTH

Children & Young Teen’s Don’t Experience Mental Health Problems

FACT

Half of All Mental Health Conditions Start by Age 14

Unfortunately, half of all mental health conditions start by 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. Less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need.

This is why mental health awareness and support is so important. Especially for young people! ⠀

MYTH

Therapy is a Waste of Time and Money

FACT

Most People Have Decreased Symptoms After Therapy

Therapy when combined with proper medication is the most effective solution to mental illness, with 75% to 90% of people overcoming their mental illness!⠀

Cognitive behavioral therapy alone is 50%-75% effective after 8-15 sessions. ⠀

Medication alone is 50%-75% effective. ⠀

MYTH

People with Mental Health Problems will Never Recover

FACT

People With Mental Health Problems Get Better and Many Recover Completely

Studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely!

Recovery is when people can live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities and activities⠀

Today, there are more treatments, services, and support systems than ever, and they work!

MYTH

Kids and Teens Cannot be Depressed – It’s Just Hormones

FACT

Teens Can Still Become Depressed

Hormones can cause teens to go through different shifts in their personalities, but they can still be depressed

In fact, several studies have shown that depression in children and alolescents is on the rise. More than 1 in 7 teens experience depression each year.

 

MYTH

There is Nothing I Can Do to Help Someone with a Mental Health Problem

FACT

There Are Many Things You Can Do To Help! Even If You Aren’t a Mental Health Professional

Be sure to offer your support, but remember that they might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through.⁣⁣⁣ You can’t force someone to get help, so just do your best to be there and be ready when they do want your help and support!⁣⁣⁣

You Can Ask Questions Like:

  • How can I best support you now?⁣⁣⁣
  • Can I help you find mental health services?⁣⁣⁣
  • Would you like me to go with you to a support group?⁣⁣⁣
  • Can I give you a ride to any appointments? ⁣⁣⁣

You Can Be A Part Of Their Support System By:

  • Checking in regularly⁣⁣⁣
  • Including them in plans⁣⁣⁣
  • Learning more about what they are going through
  • Avoid judgements or dismissive language⁣⁣⁣

MYTH

Those With Mental Illnesses Fake Being Unwell

FACT

People With Mental Illnesses Often Fake Being Okay

It is often a misconception that those with a mental illness fake being unwell or make it seem worse than it really is in order to gain attention.⁣

However, it is more likely that those with a mental illness fake being okay because they don’t want to be a burden.

MYTH

People With A Mental Illness Cannot Achieve Anything.

FACT

Success and Achievement Are Possible With Proper Treatment.

A mental illness can make it difficult for a person to work (just as a physical illness can). However, with proper treatment and support, a person with a mental illness can work very well and achieve great success!

In fact, some of the world’s greatest achievers have had a mental illness.

MYTH

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) only affects military personnel.

FACT

Anyone can have PTSD

Anyone can have PTSD. Victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse, natural disasters, or personal loss can experience symptoms. Even a person who did not face any direct violence or physical threats themselves, but witnessed someone else who did, can have symptoms.⁣

PTSD symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety attacks, and reacting in a way as if the event is recurring.⁣

MYTH

People with bipolar disorder are moody

FACT

Bipolar disorder does not cause mood swings. It causes cycles that lasts for weeks or months

Bipolar disorder causes you to have episodes where you experience mania (high energy, rampant thoughts, inability to sleep, unrealistic senses of superiority, etc.) and depressive states (feeling very sluggish, sad, suicidal, having low self-esteem, inability to concentrate, etc.) 

These extreme highs and lows take turns but do not change or swing from moment to moment.

MYTH

Eating Disorders are not serious because it’s a choice people are making

FACT

ED’s can be life threatening and are caused by genetic and environmental factors, not choice

The causes of an eating disorder are complex. Current thinking by eating disorder researchers and clinical experts holds that eating disorders are caused by both genetic and environmental factors.⁣

A societal factor (like the media-driven thin body ideal) is an example of an environmental trigger that has been linked to an increased risk of developing an eating disorder. ⁣Environmental factors can include physical illnesses, childhood teasing and bullying, and other life stressors.⁣

Eating Disorders may also run in families, as there are biological tendencies that make individuals vulnerable to developing an eating disorder.⁣

MYTH

If you try harder, you can make your symptoms go away.

FACT

Mental illnesses can’t be willed away. Many need medicine, therapy, or specialized treatment to manage symptoms

Mental illnesses can’t be willed away. And for those who are experiencing them, pushing this approach can be very defeating. ⁣

Not all mental health issues can be treated the same. Some individuals need medicine to manage their symptoms. Some need therapy. Some need a combo of meds and counseling. And some need more specialized treatment.

MYTH

Depression looks the same for everyone

FACT

Depression is not the same for everyone. Some experience intense sadness, others become angry, and some become unmotivated

Have you ever heard somebody say something like “You are not depressed, I have been depressed before and I did not act like you.”? ⁣

There is a common misconception that depression looks the same for everyone. However, depression is a mental illness that is not the same for everyone.⁣

MYTH

People with anorexia are always underweight. 

FACT

A person in an average or larger size body can exhibit restrictive eating behaviors and life threatening symptoms of anorexia.

Atypical anorexia nervosa is one of the five disorders known as Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED) and meets all the criteria for anorexia nervosa with the exception of the low weight criteria. 

Individuals with atypical anorexia nervosa (which is actually NOT atypical) engage in binging/ purging and/or restricting behaviors, have an intense fear of gaining weight, and carry a disturbance in their self-image. 

MYTH

Mental illness only affects your mind.

FACT

Mental illness can affect you physically, mentally, emotionally, behaviorally, and spiritually.

Many people experience several different symptoms of mental illness. These can include symptoms affecting the person physically, emotionally, behaviorally, and spiritually. 

MYTH

Asking someone if they are having suicidal thoughts will make the situation worse.

FACT

Starting a conversation can let them know that you care and help them see different ways through their situation.

Almost all of us have been conditioned to be afraid of conversations about suicide. Although it is a scary subject, it might be keeping us from making a difference for people during their most difficult times. ⁣It is important to check in on friends and family, especially if you think they might be considering ending their life.⁣

MYTH

People with mental health problems are violent and unpredicatable

FACT

Most people with a mental illness are not violent. Less than 5% of violent acts can be attributed to a serious mental illness. 

There is a misconception that mental illness is often the reason behind acts of violence. However, a mental illness plays no part in the majority of violent crimes. The assumption that any and every mental illness carries with it a potential for violence has been proven wrong in several studies.⁣

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