Back to articles

Busting mental health myths

Addiction, Mind, Your Care, Women's Health, Men's Health, KARLA

Nearly one in five adults in the U.S. will experience a diagnosable mental health illness during their lifetime. There are many stigmas that surround mental health disorders and it can stop many from getting the help that they need.

Here's a look at six mental health myths that need debunking:

Myth: Mental health problems are a sign of weakness.

Reality: They're never the fault of someone who has one. Mental health problems are a treatable medical disorder, not a character flaw. Many factors play a role in how and why someone develops a mental health illness, including brain chemistry, genes that may run in families, and stressful or traumatic events.

Myth: Children never experience a mental health problem.

Reality: In half of people with a mental health illness, the first warning signs appear before age 14. And even very young children can show signs of mental distress.

Myth: Therapy is a waste of time.

Reality: Research shows that therapy, which is typically short-term, is very effective at helping people recover from a mental illness. Depending on the severity of illness, therapy often works best when combined with medication and regular physical activity such as walking. When those are part of a treatment plan, up to 90 percent of all people see an improvement in their symptoms.

Myth: People who are mentally ill are violent.

Reality: The vast majority of people with a mental health problem are not violent. In fact, only between 3 and 5 percent of violent acts are attributable to people with a severe mental illness. Chances are you know someone with a mental health illness but don't realize it. That's because mental illness is often a hidden disease — many people who struggle with it remain highly productive members of society.

Myth: There's not much you can do for people with mental health problems.

Reality: You can make a big difference in someone's life. Only 44 percent of adults and less than 20 percent of children with mental health problems get the treatment they need. So if someone you know is struggling mentally, reach out.

Prioritize your mental health

Your mental and emotional wellness is just as important as your physical health. To connect with a mental health professional, find a provider near you.