Mental health is a topic that more and more people are comfortable discussing, but society still has a long way to go toward erasing mental health stigmas. Challenging these stigmas isn’t just about being more empathetic to others, either. It’s also about being more empathetic to yourself, especially if you’re one of the 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. who experiences mental illness in a given year.
Mental health is something that affects every person in one way or another, which is why it’s so helpful to understand some of the most common mental health myths. As we explore these myths, we’ll also share some things you can do to challenge misconceptions around mental health. After reading, you’ll have the knowledge needed to be a better advocate for yourself and others.
Depression, anxiety, and other mental struggles don’t mean someone is weak. Just like physical illnesses, mental illness can be the result of environmental and biological factors. We don’t have control over traumatic life events or the biochemical processes in our brains, both of which can lead to mental illness.
To fight this stigma, reconsider how you think and talk about mental illness. This includes how you speak to yourself, because mental illness is not a sign of weakness.
Anyone who has ever suffered from depression wishes this myth were true. The reality is that treating depression isn’t easy. Therapy, medication, and support are far more helpful than telling yourself or someone else to “get over” depression or any other mental illness.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness asked its Facebook followers the question, “How do you fight [mental health] stigma?”
One respondent shared that she, “[Fights] stigma by saying that I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. Why can people say they have an appointment with their primary care doctor without fear of being judged, but this lack of fear does not apply when it comes to mental health professionals?
This is a wonderful response, because being open and honest about mental health treatment is one highly effective way to challenge mental health stigmas.;
Every mental illness has its own symptoms, underlying causes, and outcomes. Schizophrenia, for example, cannot be “cured,” but that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. Treatment and management of various types of mental illness is achievable with the help of a licensed medical professional.
In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that between 70-90 percent of people will experience significant symptom relief when therapy is combined with medication. Full recovery from mental health issues is challenging, but completely possible with the right tools and support.