Mental Health: Myths vs Facts

It’s been great to see so many people raising awareness for mental health this week!  There has been a huge amount of conversations covering so many different topics – and you can see just some of them on the Twitter hashtag #MHAW15.

You can also see all of our articles for Mental Health Awareness Week 2015.

So, to close, we thought we’d leave you with some clear information on some of the most common myths about mental health problems – and the actual, accurate information that more people need to know.  As we have said previously, misconceptions, misunderstanding and ignorance can drive stigma – which often has a more damaging effect than the illnesses themselves – so the more people aware of the facts, the better.  

The Basics

First up, with information from the Time To Change campaign and Rethink:

Myth: Mental health problems are very rare.
Fact: 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.

Myth: Only certain people experience mental health problems.
Fact: Anyone can experience a mental health problem at any time.

Myth: You can see if someone has a mental illness.
Fact: You can’t tell if someone has a mental illness just by looking at them, people with a mental illness are just the same as everyone else.

Myth: People with mental illness aren’t able to work.
Fact: We probably all work with someone experiencing a mental health problem.

Myth: Young people just go through ups and downs as part of puberty, it’s nothing.
Fact: 1 in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem.

Myth: It’s easy for young people to talk to friends about their feelings.
Fact: Nearly three in four young people fear the reactions of friends when they talk about their mental health problems.

Myth: It is very rare for young people to self-harm.
Fact: Over the past 10 years, the number of young people admitted to hospital relating to self-harm has increased, but that is partly because we understand much better what it is now, and it is being recognised more easily.

(A side note: it is also a myth that self-harm is a type of suicidal behaviour or attention-seeking.

People often use self-harm as a coping mechanism to avoid or temporarily escape from suicidal or other difficult thoughts they might be having).

Myth: There is nothing we can do to maintain positive wellbeing and look after our own mental health.
Fact: There are lots of things we can do to look after our own mental health, just like we look after our physical health, such as going for walks, listening to music, relaxing, switching off technology, eating well and talking to others about how we’re feeling.

Myth: People with mental health illnesses are usually violent and unpredictable.
Fact: People with a mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violence.

Myth: People with mental health problems don’t experience discrimination
Fact: 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination.

Myth: People who experience mental health problems do not recover.
Fact: Lots of people do recover from mental health problems, and most people go on to live happy, fulfilling lives.

Myth: Learning difficulties and mental health problems are the same.
Fact: Mental health problems are about thoughts and feelings, rather than the different ways someone learns.

Time To Change also present the statistics and facts about perceived violence in mental illness and its portrayal in TV and other media which is often negative and inaccurate.


What do people living with mental health issues have to say?

In this video, Stevie challenges some of the myths surrounding schizophrenia, but many of the things he says apply to a lot of different mental health problems:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCRDIeFWhIo

 

Part of Mind’s series of Talking About Mental Health videos, a group of people discuss their experiences of suicidal feelings – and challenge some of the common misconceptions that come along with it.  They also talk about the various ways in which they were able to recover and what positive things or lessons they were able to draw from their experiences.  Please be aware that some people may find this video triggering.

 

Finally, Mind produced a video of people with lived experience of mental health issues talking about their experiences, difficulties they’ve come across, things they wished they’d known in the beginning and advice to other people in their own words:

 

The Vision Project would like to thank Mind, Rethink & Time To Change for all this useful information and all of the work they’ve been doing to raise awareness about mental health.

And we’d like to thank all of you too.  Whether you’ve been campaigning, challenging stigma, raising awareness or having those small but important conversations – this week, in the past, or even if you’re thinking about doing so in the future.  However small you might think your actions are, you’re helping put these subjects into the spotlight they need and deserve.

That’s all from Vision for Mental Health Awareness Week 2015 online!  But of course the conversation don’t stop there and neither do we!  If you have an idea for a guest article, campaign, activity, session, workshop – anything that you think would help others and that you would like to see come to life, get in touch with us on the About Us page.

As we say in our introduction, we don’t focus on what you can’t do, we focus on you what you want to do.

Let us know and let’s see if we can work together to make it happen!

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