January is Mental Health month here at the University, and today we’re looking at five myths about mental health and mental illness. Mental illnesses affect everyone in some ways, and we all likely know someone who as experienced a mental illness at some point. Yet there are many stigmas and discriminatory attitudes around mental illness that make it harder for people to get help. Here are five of the myths about mental illnesses, and the true facts about them.
- Mental illnesses aren’t real illnesses
Mental illnesses create distress, don’t go away on their own, and are real health problems with effective treatments. When someone breaks their arm, we don’t expect them to just ‘get over it’. Nor would we blame them if they needed a cast, sling, or other help in their daily life while they recovered, so why would we do it with mental illnesses (CMHA, 2016)?
- Mental illnesses are just an excuse for poor behaviour
It’s true that some people who experience mental illnesses may also experience changes in their behaviour. We need to remember that the illness, not the person, is behind these behaviours (CMHA, 2016).
- People with mental illnesses are violent and dangerous
Some people try to predict violence so they know what to avoid, but the causes of violence are often extremely complicated. Research has shown that mental illnesses are not a good predictor of violence. People who experience a mental illness are no more violent than people without a mental illness. In fact, people who experience mental illnesses are much more likely to be victims of violence than to be violent (CMHA, 2016).
- Bad parenting causes mental illnesses
There is no one cause of mental illness. They are complicated conditions that are caused by a combination of genetics, environment, and life experiences. In fact, family members and loved ones have a big role in support and recovery (CMHA, 2016).
- People don’t recover from mental illnesses
People can, and often do, recover from mental illnesses. There are many different kinds of treatments, services, and supports that can help. People who experience mental illnesses can and do lead productive, engaged lives. Even when people experience mental illnesses that last for a long time, they can adapt and manage their symptoms so they can get back to their goals (CMHA, 2016).
Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016). Myths About Mental Illness. Retrieved from http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/myths-about-mental-illness/#.VwUbvhMrIcg