Debunking 7 Common Myths About Mental Illness

Myths about Mental Health create dangerous stigmas that often result in people avoiding necessary treatment.

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Mental health is a widely misunderstood issue. There is a general stigma around mental health issues that can prevent people from getting the help they need.

Debunking harmful myths surrounding mental health can help break the stigma around mental illness and create a culture that encourages individuals living with mental illness to seek help.

Mental Illness In The United States

Mental illness is extremely common in the United States. More than one in five adults and adolescents in the United States live with mental illness, amounting to 57.8 million people in 2021.

Around one in 25 adults live with a serious mental condition such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder.

Mental illness includes a variety of conditions that vary from mild to moderate or severe. Mental illness is also often separated into two broad categories.

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Any Mental Illness (AMI)

Any mental illness (AMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. This can cause no impairment to severe impairment.

In 2021, 22.8% of United States adults were living with AMI. AMI is experienced in higher rates in females than males at 27.2 % versus 18.1%.

AMI is also experienced most by adults with two or more races at 34.9%, followed by American Indians and Alaska Native adults at 26.6%

Serious Mental Illness (SMI)

A serious mental illness (SMI) is a term used to define a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that creates serious functional impairment.

In 2021, an estimated 14.1 million adults in the United States were living with SMI. SMI occurred more often among females at seven percent than males at four percent.

Young adults aged 18 to 25 experienced the highest prevalence of SMI at 11.4%. SMI was also highest among American Indian and Alaska Native adults.

Myth 1: Mental Illness Is Rare

Mental illness is extremely common. Research shows that in the United States, tens of millions of individuals are affected by mental illnesses each year.

Worldwide, in 2019, one in every eight people, or 970 million people, were living with mental illness.

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people living with anxiety and depression increased dramatically, with a 26% and 28% increase, respectively.

Myth 2: Mental Illness Only Affects The Weak

Mental illness has nothing to do with weakness. Mental illness is a medical disorder that needs clinical treatment.

There are several factors that affect the development of mental illness, including:

  • brain chemistry
  • injuries or diseases
  • life experiences
  • family history

Mental illness can affect someone regardless of strength or weakness. Recognizing the need to accept help for a mental illness requires both strength and courage.

Myth 3: Mental Illness Isn’t Real, It’s All In Your Head

Mental illness is extensively studied, and it is most certainly real.

The symptoms of some mental health disorders may not always be visible to an outside observer. However, evidence supports that these “invisible” conditions have demonstrable effects.

Myth 4: With Willpower, You Can Just “Snap Out Of It”

Mental illness is not influenced by willpower. Mental illnesses are complex diagnoses that often require professional treatment.

Suggesting that someone can “snap out of it” oversimplifies mental illness. Mental illness involves interactions of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

Willpower isn’t sufficient enough to combat mental health issues.

Myth 5: Medication Can Immediately Resolve Mental Illness

While medication can treat the symptoms of mental illness, it can’t resolve and cure it. With medication, it takes time to see results.

When medications are coupled with therapy, it can be beneficial for managing symptoms as well as addressing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, but it isn’t a magic cure.

Myth 6: Mental Illness Doesn’t Affect Children

Even young children can show warning signs of mental illness. Half of all mental illness shows signs before someone turns 14, and three-fourths of mental health issues begin before age 24.

Research shows that one in five adolescents have or will experience mental illness. Negative experiences in childhood can contribute to mental health issues in adolescents and adults.

Myth 7: Mental Illness Has To Be Visible To Be Real

Mental illness doesn’t have to show visible outward signs to be real, just as physical illness doesn’t always show outward signs, and we still believe physical illnesses are real.

Mental illness does exhibit outward signs in some cases, such as tiredness, irritability, weight loss, etc, but this doesn’t have to be the case for it to be real.

Ask About Mental Health Treatment In Massachusetts

If you or a family member is seeking mental health treatment in Massachusetts, we can help.
Contact our team at Bedrock Recovery Center to learn more about our mental health treatment.

  1. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),a%20seriously%20debilitating%20mental%20illness.&text=About%201%20in%2025%20U.S.,bipolar%20disorder%2C%20or%20major%20depression./
  2. National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI)
  3. National Institute Of Mental Health (NIMH)
  4. National Institute Of Mental Health (NIMH)
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  7. The University Of Alabama
  8. World Health Organization (WHO),the%20most%20common%20(1)./

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: December 4, 2023

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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