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Common Myths Surrounding Mental Health

The stigma surrounding mental health has plagued the world for centuries. Starting with the belief that mental illness was rooted in demonic possession, to the horrors of lobotomy procedures, the entire concept of mental health has been tainted by a dark shadow of misinformation. Whilst the common myths surrounding mental health are not nearly as wild as they once were, there are still many that exist. These myths can prevent people from ever seeking treatment, opening up about their struggles, and often leave them suffering in silence.

To break the stigma of mental health, we must first educate, educate, educate.

The more strength we can bring to the truth, the weaker these myths become.


People with a Mental Illness Are Violent or Dangerous


The idea that someone with a mental illness is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode can directly be traced back to Hollywood. Since the early days of film, mentally ill characters were portrayed as unstable, unhinged, or aggressive. Sadly, this hasn’t changed much. Even in today’s media, 1 in every 4 mentally-ill characters will kill someone, while half of them will inflict injury onto another.


Mental Illness Is Simply a Lack of Willpower


This myth stems largely from society’s inability to acknowledge mental illness as a real biological condition. When someone is suffering from a lung disease, we don’t tell them to simply ‘try to breathe harder’. So why do we do this with the brain? In many cases, individuals suffering from mental health problems are not weak at all, in fact, quite the opposite. Choosing to get up and live life each and every day when you are fighting a battle within your mind is the most courageous thing you can do.


Mental Illness Only Affects Adults 

Young girl with depression


For decades, children have been brushed aside and labelled as ‘unable to understand or recognise their feelings’. However, global research has shown the age of mental illness getting younger and younger as time goes on. In fact, nearly half of all mental illnesses begin around age 14, meaning teens create a large majority of those suffering.  In addition, a 2021 study conducted in the UK found that 17% of 6 to 16-year-olds were struggling with a mental health disorder.


People with Mental Illnesses Cannot Work 


Another myth perpetuating the stigma of mental health is that individuals with a mental illness cannot be productive members of society. Unless their mental illness is severe and impairs their ability to communicate with others, make rational decisions, and perform daily tasks, an individual with a mental illness can hold down a job just as any neurotypical person can.


Mental Illnesses are Permanent 


Whilst every person’s journey with their mental health is unique, having a mental illness does not mean you are doomed to suffer forever. In fact, many people do recover from their mental illness and go on to lead satisfying, productive, positive lives. Many times, medication and therapy are required to help an individual overcome their mental health problems; however, recovery is still possible.


Mental Health Problems Do Not Affect Me 


If you live without a mental health problem, that’s great! However, just because you don’t, it does not mean someone you love doesn’t. Mental illnesses are quite common, with around 1 in every 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health condition each year. This means it is incredibly likely that a loved one, friend, or colleague you know suffers from some sort of mental health condition.


Someone With Schizophrenia Has Multiple Personalities 

Treatment for schizophrenia

Whilst the word ‘schizophrenia’ does mean ‘a splitting of the mind’ it is a common misconception. Schizophrenia is characterised by hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and distortions in language, emotions, and thinking. This idea of a ‘split personality’ is Dissociative Identity Disorder, not schizophrenia.


Someone That Is Depressed Is Suicidal


Whilst Major Depressive Disorder does increase a person’s chance of becoming suicidal, not every person that is depressed wants to die. In many cases, depression is not the leading cause of suicidal fantasies. The severity of someone’s depression, as well as a history of substance abuse, and past suicide attempts can all increase the risk of an individual taking their own life.


Therapy Is Only for People with No Friends 


Whilst friends and family can often be wonderful listeners, there are many problems with using them as a therapist. For starters, your friends and family are biased. Some of them have known you their entire lives and do not want to see you hurt. They may sugar coat their advice or tell you what you want to hear in order to keep you happy. In addition, friends and family that haven’t worked through their own personal trauma and mental health can have a tainted view of the world, making their advice distorted – at best.


People With Depression Feel ‘Sad’ All the Time


This may be one of the most misunderstood concepts surrounding depression. It is not always that an individual suffering from depression is sad per se, but rather they feel empty and numb to the world around them. Very little can make them happy, even activities that once brought them great joy. It is not wrong to think depression equals sadness, because many people struggling with depression report feeling extreme low moods. However, feeling numb to everything internally and externally is far less talked about.

Addressing Mental Health Myths Is Powerful

To create a world in which mental health is widely accepted, acknowledged, and treated properly, we must first acknowledge the myths holding us back.

Addressing the myths surrounding mental health can help break the stigma and create a world that encourages and supports those suffering to seek help.

When people are not properly educated, they tend to make assumptions or fill in the blanks with their own preconceived ideas of what mental health is. This misinformation prevents others from ever getting the help they desperately need.

The more we debunk these myths, the more accepting of a world we create.

Orchestrate Health offers bespoke mental health services that people can access from the comfort of their own home or within their community, with rapid response times and even daily visits if needed. Orchestrate Health can provide help for those struggling with mental health conditions, and remove the inconvenience of travelling to and from appointments.





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