The Truth About Mental Health: Myth v Fact

A lot of people are affected by mental illness, whether it is a friend or family member, or they experience it themselves. Unfortunately, there is still a negative attitude around the subject, making some people afraid or ashamed to talk about it or ask for help. I suffer from anxiety, depression, mild agoraphobia, and get panic attacks. It took me a while to get help and realize that I am not alone. With medication, mediation, therapy, and mindfulness I went from feeling alone to wanting to talk about it and share. Through my story and experiences with mental health, I use my passion to try to end the stigma. That is why months like this are essential.

May is mental health month. Its primary purpose is bringing awareness and education to people about mental illness to end the stigma. Mental health involves our emotional, social, and psychological well-being.

Since there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding it, I thought I would share some common mental health myths and facts from MentalHealth.gov and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Myth: Kids can’t have a mental illness like depression. Those are adult problems

Fact:” Even children can experience mental illnesses. In fact, many mental illnesses first appear when a person is young. Mental illnesses may look different in children than in adults, but they are a real concern. Mental illnesses can impact the way young people learn and build skills, which can lead to challenges in the future. Unfortunately, many children don’t receive the help they need. Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24. Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

Myth: People don’t recover from mental illness.

Fact: “People can and do recover from mental illnesses. Today, there are many different kinds of treatments, services, and supports that can help. No one should expect to feel unwell forever. The fact is, people who experience mental illnesses can and do lead productive, engaged lives. They work, volunteer, or contribute their unique skills and abilities to their communities. Even when people experience mental illnesses that last for a long time, they can learn how to manage their symptoms so they can get back to their goals. If someone continues to experience many challenges, it may be a sign that different approaches or supports are needed.”

Myth: Mental illness will never affect me.

Fact: “All of us will be affected by mental illnesses. Researchers estimate that as many as one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness in any given year. You may not experience a mental illness yourself, but it’s very likely that a family member, friend, or co-worker will experience challenges.”

Myth: Mental illnesses aren’t real illnesses.

Fact: “The words we use to describe mental illnesses have changed greatly over time. What hasn’t changed is the fact that mental illnesses are not the regular ups and downs of life. Mental illnesses create distress, don’t go away on their own, and are real health problems with effective treatments. When someone breaks their arm, we wouldn’t expect them to just “get over it.” Nor would we blame them if they needed a cast, sling, or other help in their daily life while they recovered.”

Myth: I can’t do anything for a person with a metal health problem.

Fact: “Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need by: Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help, helping them access mental health services, Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn’t true, Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else, and Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as “crazy”

These are only a few myths and facts when it comes to what can be covered about mental health. It is an ongoing battle that while we feel alone, are not. As I mentioned in the beginning, mental health is something that should be taught and talked about. I feel strongly about it because I suffered in silence for years, afraid to say anything. Well, not anymore!

I care, I am here for you.

Until next time!

Sarah Wylde

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