Eight myths about mental health


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), only 17 percent of adults in the U.S. are in “optimal mental health.”  In fact, it is estimated that one in five people deal with some kind of mental health issue—anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc—that impacts our daily life.

Here are some myths about developing and dealing with mental health issues.

Myth #1

If I get help, everyone will know.

Just like any other medical record, your right to privacy applies to your mental health and mental health services.

Myth #2

It won’t happen to me.

At least half—yes half—of the adult population in the U.S. will develop a mental health condition at some point in their life, according to the American Psychological Association.

Myth #3

I can take care of the problem myself

We’ve blogged about ways to reduce stress and improve your overall brain health, but just as you would see a doctor for physical problem, some mental health problems rise to the level of needing support from a medical professional and you shouldn’t hesitate to seek help when you need it.

Myth #4

And this too, shall pass

It’s certainly true that mental health symptoms can come and go.  Lifestyle can also have an effect—divorce, trauma, additional stress.  But just because symptoms may come and go, doesn’t mean you should ignore the underlying issue and assume it will go away.  Would you ignore skin cancer?

Myth #5

I’m weak for asking for help

If you develop hip or knee pain that become so intense you needed help walking or getting around, would you think yourself weak for seeing a doctor?  Probably not.  So does it make you weak if you see a doctor for depression or anxiety?  The answer is, it doesn’t.  Getting help for a mental health condition is being as responsible with your overall health as getting a flu shot every year.

Myth #6

Personality weakness or character flaws cause mental health problems.

Mental health problems have absolutely nothing to do with being lazy or weak.  Research shows that mental health conditions can be caused by

  • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Myth #7

Children don't have mental health problems.

In fact, more than half of all mental health disorders present symptoms for the first time before a person turns 14 years old and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24. Sadly, less than 20% of children with mental health conditions get the treatment they need.  Studies have shown that early intervention significantly reduces the impact these mental health conditions can have later in life.

Myth #8

People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.

The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don't even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.

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