- Mental illness is a sign of weakness.
People with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions aren’t “mentally weak.” Mental strength is not the same as mental health. Someone who is blind or who has an ulcer could still be physically strong – and someone with depression or who is battling addiction is often being mentally very strong just to have survived what they have lived through. You don’t get mental illness through weakness any more than you break a bone through carelessness or have asthma because you a lazy.
- People with mental illness are violent.
It seems that mental illness is only ever really newsworthy because of a violent incident – but most people with mental health problems aren’t violent. About 7.5% of crimes are directly related to symptoms of mental illness. Alcohol, substance abuse, poverty, unemployment, and homelessness are more common reasons for people to commit violent acts.
- You’re either mentally ill or mentally healthy.
Just as a physically healthy person can experience minor health issues, any mentally healthy person will always experience an emotional problem or two in their lifetime. Mental health is a continuum and even if you are doing well, there’s a good chance you aren’t 100% mentally healthy. About 17% of adults are in a state of optimal mental health at any one time.
- Mental health problems are forever.
Not all mental health problems are curable. Schizophrenia, for example, doesn’t go away. However, most mental health problems are treatable. Between 70 and 90% of individuals experience symptom relief with a combination of medication and therapy – and complete recovery from mental health issues is not only possible, it’s very likely with many conditions.
- You can’t prevent mental health problems.
You can’t prevent all mental health problems – big factors like genetics and traumatic life events play a role. However, everyone can take steps to improve their mental health. Healthy habits — like eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep, and participating in regular exercise — go a long way to improving how you feel.
However, the important thing is not that you can or can’t prevent mental health problems – but that you can do something about them. Don’t deny that you have a problem – and get some help.
The best indicator of improved outcomes in mental health is rapid access to professional support.