Breaking the Myths Surrounding Mental Illness
Mental health, an issue so common in the society today, yet, carries so much stigma. Despite all these years and advancements, the topic is still taboo. There is a name for the stigma that is associated with mental illness, and that is “sanism.” This means that discriminating against anybody based on their mental health. It is a form of oppression that is not just against the law but is also not ethical. Unfortunately, there is plenty of misinformation that riddles society concerning mental health and mental illnesses. It is essential to educate people and make them aware of this. So we wish to set the record straight on some of the myths that surround mental illness.
Myth 1: Having a Mental Illness Means you Are ‘Crazy.’
The truth is simple. Having a mental illness does not in any way mean that you are ‘crazy.’ It only means that you are more vulnerable than others in the general community. A mental illness diagnosis means that you have a condition that presents challenging symptoms. In other words, mental illness does tend to alter your thinking, mess with your mood, and skew the way you see reality.
But none of this means that you are ‘crazy.’ It is merely that you are human and that you have a sickness. Remember, you are not alone, as many other people have mental health issues too.
Myth 2: Having a Mental Illness Makes You Violent and Dangerous
When there is an increase in mass violence, the media is quick to judge suspects and speedily label them as mentally ill or mentally disturbed. The way popular movies portray people with mental illness and violence doesn’t help their case too. This contributes to a general belief that hate and violence are related to mental illness.
Going by US crime statistics, only 5% of all of the violent crimes that take place in the US are by those who are suffering from severe mental illness. The truth is that those with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. Thus, there is no reason for people to fear someone who has a mental illness simply based on that alone.
Myth 3: Psychiatric Medications Are Harmful
It is a general belief that psychiatric medication is bad in some way. If it isn’t this, people are misled to believe that psychiatric medication is simply ‘happy pills.’ Or the way a few people call it, they are an escape, an ‘easy way out’ if you will. The popular myth is that people with mental illness take medications to escape their problems or the realities of life. This is not true.
Similar to any other medical condition, like diabetes or cholesterol, mental illnesses need specific medications too. For many kinds of mental illnesses, drugs are necessary for survival. Medication helps ease the symptoms of these conditions. In some cases, it also prevents epilepsy or paranoia and a host of other things from affecting daily life.
Myth 4: Seeking Help Will Lead to Being Ostracized
It is miserable to see how the world we live in, has so many advancements, yet, is not hospitable to the mentally ill. This makes it difficult and even scary for people who have mental illnesses to seek help. There are a lot of misunderstandings, and the lack of awareness in the community makes them fear coming out in the open.
The fear of their family and friends ostracising them or being judgemental prevents from mentally ill people from seeking professional help. If you muster the courage to seek help, remember, you’re doing your bit to break the stigma. This will help change the perceptions of society and eventually make a difference.
It is essential to learn as much as you can about mental illness. Learn more about the treatments, breaking the misconceptions, and reaching out to people in your community or society in general. Help change the world one step at a time. Even simple actions like organizing workshops, spreading news articles that create awareness, or also creating an online community can help.
Every bit helps. For people who suffer from mental illnesses, it can be frightening to live their daily lives. And the last thing they want to worry about is dealing with the mockery of society. So, go out and do your bit to create awareness about mental illness!
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