There are many speculations regarding mental illness – some of them are informed by research and experience, while others aren’t. Understanding the real impact of mental illness means that we acknowledge what mental illness consists of and how it can affect lives. If we know the facts, we can protect ourselves against stigma and discrimination – we can also use our knowledge to inform others so that more people seek treatment and utilize therapy to promote their mental health and wellbeing. Here are the most common assumptions regarding mental illness:
- Mental illness isn’t that common. This is false – according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about one in five Americans experience a mental illness. In addition, one in twenty-five Americans suffer from a serious mental illness that severely impacts their daily life.
- People with a mental illness are just “faking it” for attention. This is also false – NAMI noted in 2015 that just as with physical illness, environmental or biological stressors, traumatic life events and brain structure may play a role in why someone suffers from a mental illness.
- Everyone gets depressed at some point in their life. (Mostly) true – according to The Odyssey Online, a website that provides content on hot topics, major depressive disorder affects about 14.8 million Americans each year. While many people have an episode of depression in their life, there are also many people who suffer from depression, which causes them ongoing depressive symptoms.
- Mental illness is a sign of weakness. False – Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, college psychology instructor and internationally recognized expert on mental strength, told Psychology Today in 2015 that mental strength is not the same as mental health. She stated that just as someone who has diabetes can be physically strong, someone with, for example, depression can still be mentally strong.
- People with mental illness cause gun violence. This is a current hot topic, and is false. The Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Norman Anderson, states that contrary to popular media depiction, most people with a mental illness do not harm others. He states that placing gun violence and mental illness in the same context does a disservice to the discussion, and takes away from finding viable solutions.
There are many misconceptions surrounding mental illness, but those who choose to simply believe the myths are limiting their ability to help others and themselves. Belief in these myths, along with others, further perpetuates stigma and discrimination – pulling us even further apart as a society. Make the decision to educate yourself on mental illness. Know the facts. Speak with people who are suffering from mental illness and hear their experiences.
If you are ready to begin your journey to recovery, call Avalon Malibu today. We will be there with you every step of the way; we believe in holistic, integrative treatment, meaning that we will promote wellness of your mind, body, and spirit. Take that first step. Call us at 855-408-8934.