For those dealing with mental illnesses, discussing challenges can be difficult. The stigma surrounding mental health can make people feel excluded, silenced and misunderstood. However, becoming more informed can help put an end to that.
Emily Bulthuis, MSW, LICSW, is a therapist at Park Nicollet. She debunks some of the common myths about mental illnesses – and encourages you to pass on the facts to your own networks, too.
Myth #1: Mental illnesses are rare.
Fact: Mental illnesses are very common. One in 5 people will develop a mental health issue at some point in their life. You can learn about some of these conditions on makeitok.org. It’s important to know there are effective treatment options for all of these. That means there are many reasons to remain hopeful if you are struggling with a mental health issue.
Myth #2: If you try harder, you can make your symptoms go away.
Fact: Mental illnesses can’t be willed away. And for those who are experiencing them, pushing this approach can be very defeating. Not all mental health issues can be treated the same. Some individuals need medicine to manage their symptoms. Some need talk therapy. Some need a combo of meds and counseling. And some need a more specialized treatment.
Myth #3: Everyone who has a mental illness needs medication to manage symptoms.
Fact: Some people with mental illnesses don’t need medicine to manage their symptoms. Yet, no two patients are the same. Sometimes medicine can be very helpful in managing symptoms. And for certain people, it may even be crucial to recovery. Individuals should speak with a professional to determine the best treatment for their needs. Our organization has care teams who can help at:
- HealthPartners & Park Nicollet Mental Health Care
- Stillwater Medical Group
- HealthPartners Central Minnesota Clinic
- Amery Hospital & Clinic
Myth #4: Keeping a job is too stressful for individuals with mental illnesses.
Fact: Those with mental illnesses are no different than your average employee. They are just as productive. And having a job is actually beneficial to those living with a mental health issue. It provides structure and a sense of personal purpose.
Myth #5: Someone living with a mental illness is more likely to commit a crime or be violent.
Fact: A mere 7.5 percent of violent acts are committed by people experiencing symptoms of mental illness. More often than not, individuals with mental health issues are not violent. Someone with a mental illness is actually nearly 4 times more likely to be a victim of crime.
Myth #6: Individuals who experience mental health symptoms will never recover.
Fact: When treated, people with mental illnesses are able to live happy, ambitious lives that are meaningful and fulfilling.
Mental illnesses are treatable health conditions very common in the world today. They can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, race or income. But people are still afraid to talk about them due to shame, misunderstanding and fear of discrimination. The Make It OK campaign works to end that. Take the pledge and take a stand against mental illness stigma.