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Common Myths Surrounding Mental Health

Fri, 09/15/2023 - 07:38

It’s 2023, and the stigmas surrounding mental health are changing at breakneck speeds. More Americans than ever before are seeking out the services of mental health professionals and making meaningful improvements in their lives.

According to the American Psychology Association, 87% of US adults believe that having a mental health disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. This is a HUGE increase from even a decade ago. That being said, there are still many myths and misconceptions that discourage individuals from taking the steps necessary for recovery.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common myths surrounding mental health:

“Mental Illness is Uncommon”
Perhaps the biggest myth surrounding mental health is that suffering from mental illness is uncommon. On the contrary, roughly 50 million Americans experienced a form of mental illness in 2022. This staggering number comes from a survey conducted by Mental Health America, a non-profit research and advocacy organization. MHA also states that of these 50 million people, 56% did not receive treatment.

Anyone can experience mental illness in their lifetime. Common causes include troubles with work and finances, social isolation, stress, grief, drug and alcohol abuse, traumatic events, and much more.

“Someone Suffering From Mental Illness Can Just “Snap Out of It”
We’ve all heard versions of it before: “get out of your own head,” ‘walk it off,” “just stop thinking about it,” “you’re making something out of nothing,” and so on…

While episodes of poor mental health can come and go, many cases do not pass without an active effort. Negative thought patterns can be reinforced over time, making it more difficult to get out of a rut and return to a healthy state of mind.  

Seeking help from a professional should not be considered a last resort, but a preventative measure. It’s better to address issues when something isn’t feeling quite right, rather than wait for them to develop into something more severe.

“To Ignore Mental Health Issues is a Sign of Strength” 
The pressure to always display strength and uphold an image of invincibility leads many to very poor states of mental health over time. 

Though it may seem easier to shrug off your struggles and ignore their effects, it is just about the same as trying to run on a sprained ankle. Sometimes you need to sit out the race and go to a doctor or trainer in order to come back stronger than ever. This principle rings true for mental health.

“The Best Way to Cope is to Compartmentalize” 
Stuffing away negative thoughts and traumatic memories into the back of your mind may seem like a good idea at first. However, this ‘sweep it under the rug’ mentality can wreak havoc on mental health and day-to-day life when we least expect it.

Unaddressed mental illness can affect just about every aspect of one’s life, from relationships and effectiveness at work or school, to quality of sleep and physical health. For example, a seemingly inconsequential event from distant childhood years can play an outsized role in how one interacts with peers in the present. Talk therapy and other modes of treatment can help to bring these associations to light and lessen their negative effects.

“You Need Medication to See Real Results”
While medication can in fact be very beneficial in combating mental illness, there are a plethora of other treatment options and combinations that yield meaningful results.

Hundreds of clinical trials have proven the efficacy of talk therapy, concluding that “those who undergo therapy have a higher chance of improving their mental health than those who do not” (New York Times).

However, it should be noted that a combination of medication and forms of talk therapy also yields positive results for many patients.

“All Mental Illnesses Are Permanent”
In most cases, mental illness is not permanent, though it can persist for long periods of time. Maintaining good mental health is an ongoing process, and many illnesses can be overcome with the proper approach to care and recovery.

The meaning of recovery in the context of mental wellness can mean a lot of things to different people. Depending on your individual circumstances and the goals you’d like to achieve, recovery may simply mean having a good week. You don’t have to be the happiest, most successful and settled person to recognize and celebrate your progress.

Recovery may not necessarily mean being free of all symptoms, but reaching a place where your condition is manageable. For most, it is an ongoing effort that requires active upkeep.

It’s okay to ask for help. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression or any other mental health disorders, consider speaking to a therapist or related professional. 

Our friendly and compassionate mental health experts at Families, Inc are here to help. Give us a call or visit us at one of our 11 local clinics in Arkansas. Together, we can help you enjoy a healthier, happier life.


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