10 Myths About Mental Health (and Why They Are False)

10 myths about Mental Health (and why they are false)

Mental health has been defined by the WHO, the World Health Organization, as achieving a state of complete well-being on a physical, mental and social level. It cannot be considered as the absence of diseases or disorders alone.

Following the popularization of the concept of mental health, a considerable number of prejudices and erroneous beliefs that complicate the social inclusion of people with mental health problems.

The main myths about mental health

Mental health problems are not an uncommon thing. According to data from the Ministry of Health, 6.7% of the Spanish population has anxiety disorders, 4.1% depressive disorders, 5.4% sleep disorders and 1.2% psychotic disorders. 34.3% of women and 17.8% of men over 40 years of age in Spain have ever used antidepressant, anxiolytic or sedative medications.

Therefore, it is vitally important that discourses and narratives are constructed that dignify mental health and give value to the experiences of people who see theirs damaged. In this article we are going to comment on 10 myths about mental health and explain why they are false.

1. Having mental health problems is very unusual

As we have already presented, the data on mental health in Spain make us realize that Problems of this type cannot be considered isolated cases or social minorities. Adding one more fact, suicide is the first cause of death among young people between 15 and 29 years old; We should not consider mental health issues in isolation.

Data from the World Health Organization predict that 1 in 4 people, that is, 25% of the world’s population, will suffer from a mental disorder at some point in their lives. In addition, the World Health Organization also highlights that mental health problems are not related to gender or age; They can affect anyone.

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2. People with mental health problems become aggressive

This is a completely false myth. Studies show that people with a mental health problem are not violent, but are just as likely to experience episodes or moments of violence as anyone else. In fact, People with mental health problems are more likely to be victims of violence compared to the rest of the population.

Maintaining this false belief that people with mental disorders are violent only increases the difficulty of social inclusion for these people, and increases the stigma that exists towards them and their experiences.

3. People with mental health problems cannot live in society

The fact that people with mental health problems are isolated from society is nothing more than a reflection of the victimization and social exclusion they suffer due to the disorders they suffer from. Obviously, having mental health problems is not isolated from society; It is society itself that, by not accepting these experiences and classifying them as strange or strange, ends up pushing these people towards exclusion. These people are perfectly capable of living in society and their social abilities or skills do not have to be affected.

4. Mental health problems are lifelong

Indeed, chronic mental disorders exist and they will accompany people who suffer from them throughout their lives. This is not the case with all disorders, but we must understand that the action of psychological and pharmacological treatments is reduce as much as possible the implications of mental disorders on the daily lives of affected people. This means that, with correct treatments, people with mental health problems can usually lead normal lives.

5. Boys and girls do not have mental health problems

We tend to think that childhood is relentless and that boys and girls cannot suffer problems. This is false, the reality is that minors also have problems, and this includes mental health problems. The World Health Organization points out that Half of mental disorders begin by age 14, but in most cases they are not detected or treated which lengthens the problem and can make it chronic.

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Therefore, it is important to make these realities visible and understand so that knowledge about childhood disorders expands and the capabilities and possibilities of detecting and treating them increase.

6. Mental health problems only affect the weakest people

A character that is weaker or not as resilient as others has no relationship or influence on the possibility of developing mental health problems. Personality variables are usually considered unrelated to mental problems. However, genetic influence or inheritance, the experience of traumatic or very stressful experiences and the functionality of family ties are usually taken into account, to give some examples.

7. People with mental health problems should be admitted

This myth has its origin in the spread and popularization during the history of asylums or mental health institutions; known for the isolation and experiences of violence experienced by the people admitted to them. Nowadays, mental health centers are usually intended for temporary acute episodes.

The objectives of these treatments are social inclusion and the daily life of people with mental health problems; not to isolate and exclude from the rest of the people those who suffer from a mental disorder.

8. Only medication works to treat mental health problems.

It is often thought that the only measure to solve mental health problems is the use of medication. Mental disorders and the people who suffer from them have tended to be extremely medicalized; reaching the point of considering them only functional if they take the medication they should and have control of the appropriate psychopharmacology for them.

However, the mental health treatment that has received the most empirical support and results over time is the combination of pharmacological treatments together with psychological therapy. Furthermore, there are disorders for which there is no pharmacology or it is not essential to take it for recovery. Therefore, it is important for people with mental disorders to have access to psychological therapy and to be able, with the help of psychology, to gradually solve these problems that endanger their mental health.

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9. We cannot help people who have mental disorders

Thinking that the only help that people with mental disorders can receive or the only useful resource for them is psychological or pharmacological therapy is wrong. Anyone can help people with mental disorders in the same way they can help people who do not have them.

Social support is a fundamental component of recovery from any mental health disorder or problems, in addition to being a key indicator to achieve emotional and psychological well-being in all its aspects. Social support basically refers to social accompaniment through problems, providing the emotional help that any person may need in their recovery.

On the other hand, you can also collaborate with any cause related to mental health that interests you, acting as a volunteer in an organization that is within your reach. There are many ways to help and improve the lives of people with mental health problems who may be feeling in processes of social exclusion.

10. Going to the psychologist is of no use

Psychological therapy offers a professional and structured approach to address mental health problems and maximize emotional well-being. The results of psychological therapy may vary depending on each individual, but generally, seeking professional help will always be an important step towards improving mental health. Surely receiving psychological therapy will be more effective for your mental health than not receiving any type of care or attention.

Many people think and spread the idea that going to therapy is useless. This It has spread mainly due to the social stigma associated with mental illnesses the possible negative experiences of oneself or others related to psychological therapy, the lack of knowledge about the functions of a psychologist and the unrealistic expectations that are intended to be achieved through psychological intervention.

As we have mentioned, experiencing mental health disorders or problems is more common than we think, and these have a significant impact on the quality of life of the people involved. Psychological therapy, especially Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, has been shown to have an important impact on people’s quality of life; specifically for the treatment of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, among others.