Mental health is not as simple as physical health. It would have been amazing to have a tool which could show depression in an x-ray, panic attack in brain scan or anxiety via MRI. Unfortunately, it’s not the case. Mental health issues are complex and need thorough assessment and observation to be recognized. It’s a human nature to brush it under the realm of superstition whatever is beyond our limited knowledge and information. Due to this mental health has variety and range of myths attached to it. Let’s look at some of them:
- Mental Health is same as mental illness
Well, just as physical health does not mean physical illness, in the same way mental health doesn’t translate to mental illness either. Sometimes we experience headaches, fever, flu, or cough and recover from it by use of medication and rest. In the similar way we all go through low phases, stress, anxiety and trauma. If we are able to seek support in terms of counselling or psychotherapy, we can recover.
- Mental illness means ‘crazy’
Mental illness can be understood as the second stage of coping with mental health issues. To further simplify, let us say that someone was coping with fever but did not take proper care, now the simple fever turns into pneumonia. On the lines of this analogy, when we go through a loss or trauma in our life, we feel sad, low, gloomy along with physical and cognitive issues. If we don’t seek support like psychotherapy, our minor mental health issue can change into depression, or anxiety disorder and more. This clearly doesn’t mean crazy!
- Mental illness is not real
Mental illness is just a serious as physical illness. Severe mental illness need serious and regular treatment. Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt one’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children. Hence this is real!
- People with mental illness are dangerous and violent
So far there is no research to prove that people with mental illness are more dangerous and violent, than those with no mental illness. There are multiple factors behind violence. Not every individual who has been violent or threaten the safety of self or others has exhibited mental illness. Rather people with mental illnesses are victims of many unfortunate accidents, or assaults.
- Recovery from mental illness is not possible
Research has shown that individuals who seek timely treatment in terms of psychotherapy and if required medication, have shown tremendous recovery. Think of it as someone who develops fever and doesn’t attend to it, fever might change into something severe like pneumonia. Similar way psychological issues, if left unattended to can translate into severe mental illness.
Let us endeavour to clear our myths about Mental Health to be able to understand ourselves better. Also, this awareness will equip us with tools to support our loved ones coping with mental health issues.
Founder of Talk Heals Psychotherapy