October 10th is recognized as World Mental Health Day. Along with that, October 3rd - 9th is recognized as Mental Illness Awareness Week. These were created as a way to "raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health".
Over the course of the past year and a half, the mental health conversation has become more acceptable in mainstream media. More people began admitting they were struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression largely in part because so many people were struggling in it together.
However, we have only scraped the surface of the mental health conversation. And World Mental Health Day opens the door to continue the conversation. We want to use this opportunity to help dispel the myths around mental health.
Myth #1: Mental health disorders are not common
Truth: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, "1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year."
One of the myths that many people believe about mental health disorders is that it's not something that impacts many people. However, as you can see from the numbers above, that's not true. Many people experience mental health challenges at some point in their lives, while some will live with challenges throughout their lives.
There are many reasons that this myth exists. One reason is that stigma keeps people from sharing their personal stories about mental health. You may be surprised to learn that close family and friends have experienced mental health challenges or a mental health diagnosis and never shared it with you.
Another reason people think it's not common is that many people don't seek diagnosis or treatment for their symptoms. This can be for many reasons including:
Lack of access to professional help
Lack of understanding that there is help available
Not wanting to appear "weak" or "crazy" (this is part of the mental health stigma)
Fear of what impact a diagnosis would have on other areas of their lives
Thinking their struggles aren't "big enough" or "serious enough" to talk to someone about
Sharing your own story is one of the best ways to learn how common it really is. Taking the step of being vulnerable about your own situation makes it easier for others to be open about their own.
Myth #2: People with mental health disorders are dangerous.
Truth: Studies have found that "people with mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator."
Often times when a tragic event such as a mass shooting makes the news, mental health is added to the conversation. This has helped to spread the dangerous myth that people with mental health diagnoses are dangerous.
The reality is that the opposite is true. Having a mental health disorder makes a person more likely to fall victim to crime.
This is an important myth to dispel because it can stop people from seeking the help they need. If someone is afraid they'll be labeled "dangerous" or make people in their family or workplaces uncomfortable, they're not as likely to get help or share their experience with others.
Myth #3: People with mental health disorders should choose to "snap out of it".
Truth: Mental health disorders are not something that people just turn on and off when they want.
Society as a whole doesn't have a problem understanding that if you have a broken arm, you can't just stop your symptoms and feel better because you decide that you want to. People understand that if you have a broken bone, you need to get help from an educated professional who is trained in how to heal broken bones.
We should view mental health disorders the same way. Your health and wellness are comprised of both your physical and mental health. If you're struggling in either area, you should seek help.
There are many treatment options that can help you to make progress and overcome the symptoms of your mental health challenges. Working with a therapist in Stillwater or another mental health professional can help you find the right treatment plan for your specific situation.
Myth #4: Mental health problems are a sign of weakness
Truth: Mental health challenges have nothing to do with how strong a person is.
There are many things that can cause a person to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. It has nothing to do with strength or weakness.
Our mental health is impacted by many things that are outside of our control. This can include things like genetics, family history, and trauma.
Anyone can experience mental health challenges. Getting help is a sign of strength and can put you on the path to feeling more likely yourself again.
Myth #5: There is no hope of change if I have a mental illness.
Truth: There are many treatment options available to help you overcome the symptoms of mental health disorders.
One of the symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders is feeling like there is no hope. However, that is just a symptom, it's not the truth.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to mental health challenges. Instead, there are many options of treatment and combinations of treatment that can help. If you've tried to get help in the past and found that it didn't work, it doesn't mean that there is no solution. Instead, it just means that wasn't the right plan for you.
Finding the right combination of therapy and medication if necessary can take a little time and require adjustments along the way. It's best to work closely with a mental health professional. They can help you make these adjustments as needed to get you to a place where you're feeling more like yourself again.
Myth #6: Therapy can't help me.
Truth: Therapy can play an important role in treating mental health challenges and mental illness.
While there are many self-care activities that you can do on your own to protect your mental health, they should not be viewed as replacements for therapy. A strong self-care routine is helpful in managing the stress and anxiety of daily life.
Self-care is also helpful when paired with therapy and/or medication management for mental health disorders. But self-care should not be thought of as the sole form of treatment for mental health challenges.
The educated and experienced mental health professionals at The NEST Clinic in Stillwater MN work with a wide range of mental health challenges. Our therapists create a treatment plan that is tailored specifically to you.
If you're ready to explore your therapy options, reach out to us today to be matched with the right therapist for you.
Myth #7: There's no way for me to help someone else struggling with their mental health.
Truth: You don't have to be a mental health professional to support someone struggling with their mental health.
Having a strong support system is important for people as they work on getting help for their mental health. Here are some ways that you can help someone:
Help them access resources for their specific situation
Help them get to therapy sessions
Remember to treat them like a person (a diagnosis is something you have, not something you are)
Call and check on them
Visit with them and do fun things they enjoy
Ask them what they need
Don't try to "fix" them
You can help spread mental health awareness
The more these messages get out in the world, the better it is for everyone. You can help in the awareness efforts.
The first thing you can do is get help with your own mental health if you need it. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing. You're able to help others more when you are feeling your best.
In addition, you can do things like:
Share your own story of mental health challenges with friends and family. Help create an environment where others are comfortable sharing.
Share this article on social media to get the message out to more people.
Encourage friends and family member that are going through a hard time or dealing with a mental health diagnosis.
Find a local mental health nonprofit organization to get involved with.
If you have questions about how therapists at The NEST Clinic can help you or someone you know, contact us today.