As of today, mental health still prevails as a major unaddressed issue that seems to be spreading as the days go by. According to Mental Health America, 1 in 5 adults have a mental health condition, and youth mental health is worsening with the rate of youth with severe depression increasing from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. (1) Mental health pertains to a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being, influencing his or her thoughts, feelings, and actions. As a matter of fact, mental health is significant starting from childhood as our life experiences strongly our contribute to mental health conditions. Several factors that contribute to mental health problems include biological factors, life experiences, and family history of mental health problems. While a variety of help is available for those with mental health problems, the stigma behind mental health has prevented its awareness as many people are still afraid to admit that they have a mental health issue. Often times, this mindset stems from popular misconceptions about mental health, causing people to have wrong prejudices and discriminatory beliefs against victims of mental health illness. However, busting myths about mental health will lessen its stigma as knowledge and true facts are key to raising awareness of mental health.
Myth: Mental health problems don’t affect me.
Truth: Mental health problems are very common and can affect you by affecting those around you.
According to MentalHealth.gov, one in five American adults experienced a mental health issue, and one in ten young people experienced a period of major depression. (2) These numbers confirm that there is at least one person you know suffers through mental health problems, which includes schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. Although mental health may not affect you directly, it can definitely affect those around you.
Myth: Mental health illness is the result of bad parenting.
Truth: Children can have mental health conditions, but they can arise from many factors.
While it may seem unlikely, research demonstrates that one in five children between the ages of 13 and 18 have or will have a mental illness. (3) Environmental and biological factors play active roles in the wellbeing of individuals. The issue may be inevitable from birth due to an individual’s family history with mental health or it can develop over time with stress from work or school. In fact, mental health conditions are due to a combination of influences–internal and external.
Myth: Mental health problems are a sign of weakness.
Truth: This is like blaming a person for having a heart disease. Mental illnesses are not anyone’s fault.
Having a mental illness should not make anyone ashamed as it is not something people can choose to have. Mental illnesses are not results of deliberate behaviors. Causes of mental illness include abnormal functioning of nerve cells circuits, genetics, infections, brain defects or injury, and prenatal damage. (4) Instead, individuals have the choice to seek help. Doing this will be a sign of strength.
Myth: I can’t do anything to help.
Truth: You can. And you know it.
Support and love are the most powerful resources for mental health as friends and loved ones can make a large difference. Simply reaching out to a person with a mental health problem can drastically change that person’s life. It lets him/her know that there are people who care and are willing to address this issue. Friends and family are crucial factors as they can provide access to mental health services and spread awareness about mental health. You can refuse to succumb to mental health conceptions by stop labeling people with mental health illness as “crazy” and treat these individuals with respect and support that they need. Furthermore, you can spread awareness about the available diagnostic tools, research portals, government organizations, nonprofits, blogs, and phone hotlines.
Mental Health Resources List from Social Work License Map (5):
- American Psychological Association
- National Association of Mental Illness
- Mental Health Resources, Inc.
- National Institutes of Health
- World Health Organization
- Mayo Clinic
- Screening for Mental Health
- Office of Adolescent Health
You can even start helping now by busting myths about mental health through sharing this article!