Although mental health has become more talked about in recent years especially in the media, there are still some common stereotypes that linger in today’s society surrounding mental illness. If you struggle with mental illness you may be all too familiar with some of these stereotypes and therefore may feel ashamed or embarrassed about your mental illness. Let’s discuss some of the common “myths” of mental illness and debunk them once and for all.
- Mental illness is obvious.
This one is probably one of the most common and widespread “myths” about mental illnesses. Someone with depression may appear happy and friendly on the outside but is struggling with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and isolation on the inside. On the flip side, someone with anxiety may appear calm and collected when they are really on the verge of a panic attack on the inside. People who struggle with mental illness have learned to hide it very well due to the stigmas surrounding it. It’s important to remember, you never know what someone is struggling with no matter how they appear in their day to day life.
- Mental illness is scary.
Movies and television shows tend to depict mental illness as something that is scary and unrelatable. Movies like “Psycho” or “Shutter Island” depict mental illness in an over dramatized sense and create a sort of “villain” out of the character and their mental illness as well. These movies perpetuate the stereotype that mental illness is something to be feared. In reality, over half of Americans will struggle with mental illness at some point in their lifetime and 1 in 25 Americans struggles with a serious mental health diagnosis (Center for Disease Control, n.d.).
- People with mental illness are unstable.
The belief that people with mental illness are unstable is another common misconception about mental illness. The truth is that people that suffer from mental illnesses can manage their symptoms through medication, diet and lifestyle, talk therapy, and/or a combination of all three. Yes, people with Bipolar Disorder may have manic episodes, yes, people with a panic disorder may have panic attacks, and yes, people with Depression may have days where they don’t leave their bed. This does not mean that these people are unstable, just that they are dealing with symptoms of a mental health diagnosis that does not and should not define who they are as a person.