DisMISsing CONCEPTIONS on Mental Health
Updated: Sep 21
We’ve all seen a caged animal. It’s an image of pity, helplessness, and confinement. A similar analogy can be drawn from the taboos surrounding mental health. The myths and misconceptions regarding mental health are like rods of prison, manacling society with orthodox, irrational ideas and curbing the scope of progress, potential, and acceptance in mental health.
Mental health, an integral part of our well-being, is fogged with myths and stereotypes. These put a lid on the potentiality of the fields and prevent people from freely seeking help.
So let’s pick up that hammer and break down the flawed prejudices that choke the throat of Mental Health!
1. Having Mental Disorders means ‘You’re weak’.
Just as medical issues like diabetes or fractures do not define our personality, mental health issues do not characterize our fragility. These disorders stem from various genetic/environmental factors, that doesn’t mean the person is frail.
Acknowledging, battling, and healing from mental health disorders is a display of strength and courage!
2. People with Mental Disorders are ‘dangerous’.
While most people view mentally ailing patients as wild and violent, in reality, they are more vulnerable to being victimized. The symptoms of a more intense mental disorder may be peculiar, but, they’re hardly dangerous. The media portraying people with mental disorders as violent and vicious leads to inaccurate crystallization of stereotypes in the public's minds. In the cases where frenzy behavior is seen among them, the cause primarily lies in the inaccessibility of treatment and lack of a robust support system.
3. You cannot recover from a Mental Disorder.
With proper medication and time, your bruise starts healing, doesn’t it? So does most mental illnesses with a well-tailored treatment plan. A healthy integration of therapy, care, love, support from friends and family, and personal determination to recover can help one to reach optimal mental well-being.
Although complex conditions like schizophrenia (like blood pressure) could persist and can be managed, other common conditions like depression and anxiety are treatable with the proper remedy.
4. People with Mental Disorders can’t function normally and should be isolated.
No! People with mental disorders neither have a deranged brain nor are possessed. All they need is more empathy, love, and care from friends and family. Excluding them from society will elevate their insecurities and push them deeper down the spiral. Also, they are usually productive, can carry out responsibilities, and lead a normally functioning life. Confirming this myth undermines the person’s self-esteem and skills and renders them inadequate, thus fuelling their negativity. Instead, appreciate their unique abilities and make them feel valued!
5. Children don’t have Mental Health Issues.
It’s assumed that children are too unworldly to be affected by mental health issues, but in reality, the beginnings of various mental health problems in adults can be traced back to childhood. Conditions like ADHD, Learning Disability, and Substance Abuse can be found among children and early treatment ensures an enriching life.
6. Mental illnesses cannot be prevented.
Mental disorders arise from an interplay of many factors, but they are preventable. A good lifestyle, positive attitude, learning to regulate emotions, spotting and dodging red flags, balanced diet, nourishing self-care, and learning healthy coping mechanisms can help foster good emotional well-being and minimize the possibility of developing a mental disorder.
7. Extroverts don’t need therapy.
Although a good support network acts as a good snack for a hungry stomach, it may not be adequate to fill your appetite and make you feel wholesome. Seeking professional help is identical to having a proper meal. Your friends and your family enrich and spread the positivity you discover after a session with a therapist. Therapists are skilled professionals and know the right tactics to heal you.
Clearing the CONfusion!
By dispelling these myths, we can build a more compassionate and enlightened society. So now, whenever someone subscribes to these myths, make them read this article and help us debunk these misconceptions!
It’s high time that these myths, built on fear, stigma, ignorance, and false grounds are smashed and replaced with sturdier and more authentic pillars of support and strength for people having mental health disorders.
Let's create a more empathetic, safe and inclusive world!
Written by: Aqsa Merchant (BA Psychology, SY, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda)
Proofread & edited by: Rubal Prajapati (Counseling Psychologist and Ph.D. Scholar at Bharathiar University)