More than 1 in 4 Americans struggle with mental illness. From anxiety and depression to illness such as bipolar and schizophrenia, mental illness can take many forms and affect individuals differently. It is not always possible to know whether a person surfers from a mental illness just by interacting with them. Many people keep their mental health struggles hidden, for fear that they will be judged or rejected.
It has become more common in the past 10 years for individuals to talk openly about mental health, in part encouraged by celebrities and public figures sharing about their own mental health challenges. However, there does still exist a stigma or bias against those who have diagnosed mental illnesses.
As a society it is important that we work together to remove these stigmas and misunderstandings of mental illness. Ignorance and misinformation can lead to biased actions that can seriously harm an individual and reduce their chances of getting better or improving their quality of life. It may prevent them from seeking the help they need to manage their condition.
In short, perpetuating the stigmas around mental health can make the problem worse.
Here are some common myths about mental illness it is important to correct.
- Mental health is a choice. For some individuals, their mental illness is a result of genetics or of trauma they have experienced. It isn’t always an option for them to “get over it” or improve their symptoms on their own.
- Mental illness never goes away. While some people do experience lifelong symptoms, many can heal and recover completely through the use of various therapies.
- You shouldn’t talk about mental illness. It is important to respect the privacy and autonomy of others, but in many cases, individuals with a diagnosed mental illness can benefit from the normalization of those conditions that comes through public discussion and awareness.