MYTH: Mental health problems don’t affect me.

FACT:

Mental health problems are actually very common.

In 2014, about:

– One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
– One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
– One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 41,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide.

MYTH: Children don’t experience mental health problems.

FACT:

Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable, and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.

Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.

Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

MYTH: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.

FACT:

The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don’t even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.

MYTH: I can’t do anything for a person with a mental health problem.

FACT:

Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need by:

– Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
– Helping them access mental health services
– Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn’t true
– Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
– Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as “crazy”

MYTH: Mental illnesses are rare.

FACT:

1 in 5 adults in the United States experience a mental health challenge in their lifetime. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.   Mental health conditions do not discriminate – they affect people regardless of age, gender, education, income, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

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MYTH: People with mental illnesses are violent.

FACT:

People with mental health challenges are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. In fact, those living with mental illness are more likely to be victims rather than perpetrators of violence.

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MYTH: Mental illness is a sign of weakness.

FACT:

Like any other health condition, mental health conditions have complex contributing causes. Factors that contribute to mental health problems include genetics, brain chemistry, life experiences, and family history. A mental health challenge is not a character flaw.

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MYTH: There’s no hope for people with mental health problems. People with mental health conditions can’t handle working or going to school.

FACT:

With proper treatment and support, people with mental illnesses can lead productive, fulfilling lives. There are many evidence-based treatments (including medication and different types of therapy) that have been shown to be effective in treating mental health problems. 60 – 90% of people who receive treatment have positive outcomes.

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MYTH: There are no places or people to turn to for help.

FACT:

There are several types of resources and professionals that specialize in treating mental health problems including psychotherapists, psychiatrists, community mental health clinics, hospitals, and advocacy agencies like MHANYS that can provide resources for you or your loved one.

It can be hard to find a good fit with a professional. It may take time and effort to find someone or someplace that meets your needs. Keep self-advocating – there are good providers out there!

MYTH: If I talk to my doctor about mental health, it will affect my job or education.

FACT:

Doctors and other mental health providers are obligated to keep your personal health information confidential. They cannot share your health information with your employer or school without your permission, unless you pose danger to yourself or others.

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MYTH: Mental health treatment is too expensive.

FACT:

Health insurances are required by law to cover treatment for mental health conditions, just like they cover treatment for physical health conditions. Often times, the cost of a visit to a mental health provider may be similar to the cost of a visit to a physical health provider.

If you do not have health insurance or choose not to use your health insurance for treatment, there are free or low-cost clinics and clinics that offer sliding scale fees.

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