All about the myths surrounding mental illness


Paige Atkison

Paige Atkison, Reporter

Myth: Mental Health issues are uncommon

The reality is mental health issues and mental illness are incredibly common. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, one in five American adults have experienced a mental health issue. In addition, one in 10 young adults have experienced at least one episode of major depression and one in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Myth: People with mental illness are violent

This may seem surprising, considering the stigma surrounding mental illness, but the mentally ill population is no more likely to commit acts of violence than the general population. Only 3-5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to the mentally ill, according to government reports. However, people with mental illnesses are far more likely to be victims of violent crimes. People with mental illness can and are non-violent productive and contributing members of society.

Myth: People with mental illness can just “snap out of it”

Mental illness is not a character flaw or the result of personal weakness. A number of factors contribute to the onset of mental illness, including biological factors like chemical imbalances in the brain, a family history of mental illness, and a history of abuse and trauma. All of these things can culminate in the onset of mental illness, and they require clinical treatments rather than personal attempts to “snap out of it” or “push their way through it.”

Myth: Psychiatric conditions aren’t as bad as other medical conditions

Psychiatric conditions aren’t as valid as other medical illnesses

Just like diabetes, heart disease, and hepatitis, mental illness is a serious medical condition that requires treatment. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), research shows that there are genetic and environmental components to mental illness, and like other medical conditions, they can be treated effectively with medication and therapy.

Myth: Mental illness can be cured

Sadly, there is no cure for mental illness, as it is a chronic condition. But some people come to believe they are cured after a period of wellness. This leads people to abandon their treatment plans, stop therapy, or quit their medication altogether. However, these periods of wellness are not signs of a cure but the result of the effectiveness of treatment. While the symptoms of mental illness can fluctuate between minor to severe, the illness remains chronic.

Myth: Mental illness can be treated through religion and positive thinking

While religion can be an important part of a person’s life, it is not a cure for mental illness. When used in conjunction with a treatment plan constructed by a physician, religion and a positive outlook can be a powerful tool. Sadly, there is a pervasive myth that mental illness is caused by a lack of faith or piety and that increased religious activity can alleviate the symptoms of mental illness. This is simply untrue. As stated previously, there are a number of factors that contribute to mental illness, and a lack of faith or positivity is not one of them.

Myth: There is no hope for people with mental illness

With the right treatment plan, people with mental illness can live long and fulfilling lives. Though mental illness is chronic, recovery is always possible with enough persistence.