According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 1 in 5 Canadians suffer from addiction or mental health problems.[i] However, many people are reluctant to talk about their struggles, so you may not even be aware that someone close to you had or is experiencing them. Unlike a physical problem, like a broken arm or pneumonia, mental health disorders are not always obvious. While there has been an increase in people sharing their experiences and challenges with conditions like anxiety or depression, other conditions like psychosis and schizophrenia are still characterized by fiction and myth.
Below are six common myths about mental health and the truths that dispel them:
Myth 1: Mental health disorder is a single, rare disorder. There are multiple types of mental health disorders with different complexities and underlying causes. Similarly, each mental health disorder relates to the impediment of brain chemistry and function. Each of these illnesses has its own specific cause and approach to treatment.
Myth 2: People with mental health disorders never get better. Treatment for mental health disorders are more numerous and more sophisticated than ever before. With the evolution of understanding and with advancements in care, many fully recover, others acquire the skills needed to keep their symptoms managed and under control. Today’s pharmaceutical treatments are advanced enough to target specific areas of the brain where treatment is most beneficial. A full recovery is often attainable, and can involve a combination of pharmaceutical and cognitive behavioural therapies, counselling, and social and physical activities to get people back to their lives.
Myth 3: Psychiatric disorders are not true illnesses. Unlike a broken leg or heart attack (which are easily detected by simple tests), mental health disorders have traditionally been an invisible disease. This inability to see what’s wrong often creates the perception or illusion that no illness exists. Mental health disorders are bona fide medical conditions involving complex physiological processes, as well as changes or imbalances in brain chemistry.
Myth 4: Children don’t get mental health disorders. “Emotional problems are just part of growing up.” Parents naturally want their children to do well, so some may brush off or explain behavioural problems or other childhood difficulties as being mere growing pains. However, numerous psychiatric conditions, including depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders can occur in childhood. Roughly one in every 33 kids and one in every eight teens suffer from depression.[ii]
Myth 5: People with a mental health disorder lack intelligence. Intelligence has nothing to do with mental health disorders.
Myth 6: People with a mental health disorder shouldn’t have jobs. People with a mental health disorder are unlikely to miss any more workdays than those individuals with chronic physical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. Employees are often unaware of those suffering from a disorder. A stress-ridden workplace may be a breeding ground for the development of stress-related mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, threatening work-life balance.
People with mental health disorders are often hesitant to tell their family, friends or employer of their struggles for fear of being labelled or having to face prejudices. Others are told to “snap out of it” or “toughen up”. It’s important to know that mental health disorders can be treated, often with excellent results, and that the more we know about them, the easier it is for us to talk about them.
[ii] Health, Partners For Mental. “Right By You.” Right By You. Partners for Mental Health, n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
Source: Homewood Health