myths about mental illness

There are some common misconceptions and myths about mental illness many people believe to be true.

Being sick is no picnic. But what if you were sick with an invisible illness, something only you and your physician understood? Well, this is true about a great number of people. Living with an invisible illness, like mental illness, for instance, makes life’s obstacles that much harder.

One of the most tragic aspects of having a mental illness is the misconceptions. Assumptions from family and friends can actually heighten the severity of conditions creating a cycle of torment.

The resolution: try to eliminate myths about mental illness and instead cultivate understanding. This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, we have much to learn.

You may not be familiar with the misconceptions and myths about mental illness, but no worries, I can enlighten you.

1. We are dangerous

Contrary to popular belief, and it does seem to be a common slur, the mentally ill are not dangerous. This is just untrue. I must admit, some behavior may be strange to those who do not understand, but it is far from dangerous. You must remember that the mentally ill think differently about most things, giving them an altered view on how the world and relationships should be. Sometimes this is construed as random and off-the-wall which then leads to the assumption that they are dangerous.

2. Kids do not have mental illnesses

I know personally that children can suffer from mental illness. There were days when going to school and being around others was almost unbearable for me. I visited therapists and endured instances of severe depression. The idea that children cannot suffer from this is preposterous. But in order to believe that children suffer, you have to understand how mental illness affects them.

There are several ways that children develop mental illness including psychological, biological and social influences. With this being said, a child who does not have the best family structure or develops low self-esteem, can also easily develop a mental illness. If a child suffers in this manner, it will be noticeable why the way they try to cope with their symptoms. Pay attention.

3. We cannot keep a job

Although it may be difficult to hold down a job for those who suffer from unpredictable moods, it’s not impossible. There are medications and natural therapies that help regulate symptoms of mental illness. There are also employers who are willing to work with those who suffer. A small amount of understanding is all it takes to provide a fair opportunity for employment. We can keep a job, sometimes much better than others because we are aware of the extra steps we must take to control our illness.

4. Mental illness is not real

Isn’t it convenient to say that mental illness is not real simply because you cannot see the symptoms? Yes, how convenient. It is so offensive to say that those who suffer from mental illness aren’t really sick. But think about this: If you have diabetes or cancer, then no one questions whether or not you are sick. There may not be any symptoms at all, during certain stages of these illnesses, yet everyone believes it!

The lack of compassion for mental illness is insulting, and many need to be educated. As for those with depression, they aren’t just sad, they are sick, and recognition helps where ignorance compounds the situation.

5. We can snap out of it

One of my most dangerous misconceptions of mental illness is seeing it as a trivial issue. Many people are under the assumption that those with mental illnesses can just stop being sad or stop worrying. This is just not true. You cannot turn this illness off and on and it doesn’t just go away at will.

Beliefs such as this may be why mental illness is so hard to treat. Maybe the sufferer feels like a failure because they just can’t SNAP OUT OF IT!

Misconceptions and myths about mental illness are dangerous. They are sometimes more dangerous than the illness itself. Instead of assuming something, we should all try to be less judgemental and help each other treat our issues.

After all, we may just be saving lives in the process.

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Sherrie is a freelance writer and artist with over 10 years of experience. She spends most of her time giving life to the renegade thoughts. As the words erupt and form new life, she knows that she is yet again free from the nagging persistence of her muse. She is a mother of three and a lifetime fan of the thought-provoking and questionable aspects of the universe.