Addressing Mental Health Myths
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week 2018, we want to talk about the facts! Or rather, common myths that most people believe when it comes to psychological matters. Every year millions of Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness, but millions more fail to understand the basics of what they’re going through. In an effort to combat these misunderstandings (that can often lead to social stigma), we’re addressing common mental health myths today!
MYTH #1: CHILDREN AREN’T AFFECTED BY MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES LIKE ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION.
Actually, children as young as 3 years old have been diagnosed with depression. Plus, a growing number of American youths are actively being treated for anxiety. When it comes to these two disorders, they’re not just “adult” matters. The all-too-common question we get is “What do kids have to be stressed or depressed about?” Unfortunately, this stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of these issues. Depression isn’t just children, or teens, or adults being sad. It’s a psychological problem caused by an imbalance in the brain. Anxiety isn’t just stress. It’s a pattern of debilitating fear or worry. Still, children today have more pressure to deal with than you might think. Since they’re still developing as they try to tackle these issues, it can leave a lasting impression if not addressed in a timely manner. So, don’t dismiss childhood mental health issues. Learn about them! And discuss this topic openly to help dispel the myth.
MYTH #2: HAVING A MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM WILL MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO HAVE A “NORMAL” LIFE.
“Normal” is a myth in and of itself. It’s a relative term that varies from individual to individual. For some people, waking up at 5:00 AM every day and maintaining a rigid schedule is “normal.” For other households, sleeping in and being more flexible is a “normal” day-to-day approach. For those with mental health issues, they can have all of the same things a so-called “normal” person would. A house, a job, a college degree, a family—it’s all possible! Of course, there will be days when they struggle. But who doesn’t have those? It’s all about finding the balance that works for you and trying to maintain it (with or without a mental illness).
MYTH #3: MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AFFECT PEOPLE THAT ARE WEAKER.
The weakness myth is what prevents a lot of people from getting the help that they need. They believe they’re going to be judged even for acknowledging their problem(s), much less trying to get treatment. In the face of the social stigma surrounding mental illness today, it actually requires a lot of courage to come forward! Plus, it’s not a character flaw of some sort that contributes to depression, bipolar disorder, etc. There are a lot of factors at work. It could be caused by a genetic marker, a neurological root, or even environmental stressors. None of which make a person weak. This myth is especially troublesome because it puts the blame on the individual. If nothing else, try to imagine how hearing this would make someone already struggling with mental illness feel.
MYTH #4: PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES WILL NEVER GET COMPLETELY BETTER.
There’s a reason we have so many innovative treatment approaches in place—treatment works! Each individual experience differs slightly, so what works for one person may not work for another. Some people benefit from psychotherapy. Others prefer cognitive behavioral therapy. Still more will need a combination of therapy andmedication. At Focal Points Therapy, we specialize in new techniques like neurofeedback and biofeedback, which have proven successful with a number of patients! If you’re struggling with mental health issues and want to learn more about your options, give us a call. Whether it’s a temporary solution during a time of need or part of your lifelong journey toward mental wellbeing, we can help. For your part, help us celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week by dispelling these all-too-common myths.