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Understanding and Dispelling Mental Health Misconceptions

Your mental health is an important part of your overall well-being. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), mental health encompasses your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Thus, your mental health can impact the way you think, feel, and act in your daily life. In particular, your mental health plays an important role in how you respond to life stressors and interact with others. Yet, there are a multitude of mental health misconceptions that can impede your ability to function.

At The Guest House, we recognize that there are still many barriers to receiving proper care for mental health disorders. Thus, we are committed to providing a holistic approach to care to address your individual needs for healing. Leaving mental health disorders untreated and or undiagnosed can be detrimental as your symptoms overwhelm you. Challenges with poor mental health symptoms like panic and negative mood will leave you feeling exhausted physically and mentally.

Moreover, when left unaddressed, you lack the tools to understand self-defeating thinking and behavior patterns that come with mental health disorders. Therefore, understanding mental health misconceptions is vital to dispelling inaccurate information and dismantling barriers to care to support long-term healing.

However, you may question how you can recognize mental health misconceptions. Why are there mental health misconceptions? How do mental health misconceptions impede your access to effective treatment for recovery?

Addressing Mental Health Misconceptions: Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders

The consequences of mental health misconceptions can have a profound impact on every part of your life. Impairment to your mental health can lead to the development of one or more mental health disorders. Some of the mental health disorders and conditions you can develop include:

  • Depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
    • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
    • Social anxiety disorder
    • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

There are a variety of mental health disorders that can impair your daily functioning, work, school, and home life. Moreover, different levels of disorder severity can contribute to poor mental health. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness. Furthermore, 1 in 5 youth and 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. have a serious mental illness (SMI). Regardless of the severity level, both short-term and long-lasting mental health challenges can make getting through the daily feel impossible.

The Consequences of Mental Health Misconceptions

Numerous mental health misconceptions can further impede your well-being. Through mental health misconceptions, you are exposed to negative beliefs that discourage seeking support. Further mental health misconceptions can also harm how people perceive others with mental health challenges. Thus, mental health misconceptions create barriers not only to treatment but to every other area of life.

Mental health misconceptions can lead to judgment and exclusion from others. Therefore, mental health stigma can further diminish your access to resources to be productive and lead a fulfilling life. Thus, destigmatizing mental health disorders can support you in building healthier tools for recovery. However, breaking the stigma and dispelling mental health misconceptions starts with understanding what myths and misconceptions exist. Listed below are some mental health misconceptions that contribute to psychological impairment:

  • People with mental health conditions are violent or dangerous
  • You cannot maintain a job with a mental health condition
  • Mental health challenges are a weakness of character
  • Symptom management and recovery are impossible
  • People with mental health conditions should be isolated for everyone’s safety
  • Mental health conditions are not real
  • Only certain groups of people have mental health conditions
  • You will be ostracized if you seek treatment for mental health conditions
  • All mental health challenges can be solved with a pill
  • Taking care of your mental health only matters if you have a condition
  • Mental health conditions are a result of bad parenting
  • There is no preventative care for mental health conditions

The wide variety of mental health misconceptions contribute to maintaining the harm of stigma on mental health. Through stigmatization, people with mental health conditions experience prejudice and discrimination on multiple levels. Thus, exposure to mental health misconceptions increases the risk of continued distress. When you are in a constant state of distress, it becomes more difficult to engage in healthy coping strategies. As a result, you are more likely to engage in self-defeating behaviors like substance misuse to cope with your distress.

Moreover, unaddressed mental health misconceptions can increase your risk for early mortality from factors like stress and suicide. Therefore, learning to recognize mental health misconceptions can be a vital tool for effective treatment-seeking behavior. Listed below are the facts that can help dismantle the mental health misconceptions listed previously:

  • People with mental health conditions are no more likely to be violent than anyone else
  • You can be just as productive as other people in work and school settings
  • Having a mental health condition does not make you weak or lazy
    • Recognizing the need for treatment takes a lot of courage
  • With holistic treatments, services, and community support, you can learn how to manage your symptoms to heal
  • Access to individualized treatment and a support network can help you build tools for recovery
    • Updates in treatment options and services reduce the need for hospitalization
  • Mental health conditions are not fake
    • They are illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, and asthma
  • Anyone can develop a mental health disorder
  • Sharing your mental health condition with others can be scary but incredibly empowering
    • Promotes mental health literacy (MHL)
    • Empowers you to advocate for your health and well-being
  • Everyone is different and deserves an individualized treatment plan that addresses their specific needs
  • Your mental health is an important part of your well-being, even if you do not have a condition
    • Fostering your well-being is as valuable as engaging in healthy habits for your physical health
  • The environment you grew up in is only one of many factors that contribute to your mental health
    • Mental health conditions are born out of influences from biological, environmental, and social factors
      • Poverty
      • Exposure to violence
    • You can still face mental health challenges if you grew up in a loving and supportive household
  • Preventive care is an important part of lowering the development of conditions and supporting long-term recovery
    • Addressing risk factors
    • Supporting and developing protective factors
      • Strengthening social and emotional skills
      • Providing resources that encourage seeking support early
      • Fostering mutually supportive relationships

Despite the reality that mental health disorders are treatable, many people continue to face debilitating impairments due to stigma. Mental health misconceptions and stigma can be the difference between life and death for millions of people. Therefore, understanding stigma and working to dismantle mental health misconceptions is vital to your long-term well-being.

What Is Mental Health Stigma?

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), stigma often stems from fear and a lack of understanding of mental health challenges. More specifically, stigma is a combination of ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination. Through stigma, individuals with mental health challenges are forced to contend with misinformation, negative attitudes, and exclusionary behaviors from others. Moreover, stigma and the mental health misconceptions born out of it can be both subtle and obvious.

Whether subtle or obvious, stigma and mental health misconceptions can lead to significant harm and perceived harm. The harm of stigma and mental health misconceptions can be seen in the three types of stigma. Listed below are the three types of stigma that can impede your well-being and access to mental health resources:

  • Public stigma: Involves negative and discriminatory attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors toward people with mental health disorders
    • Stereotypes and prejudices
      • Mental health misconceptions paint you as dangerous, incompetent, or unpredictable
    • Discrimination
      • Difficulty finding employers who will hire you
      • Unable to rent or purchase property
      • More barriers to healthcare resources
      • Reduced autonomy and self-efficacy
  • Self-stigma: Characterized by low MHL coupled with negative attitudes and beliefs about yourself
    • Stereotypes and prejudices
      • Mental health misconceptions convince you that you are dangerous, incompetent, and or to blame for your challenges
    • Discrimination
      • Negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself
        • Decrease self-esteem
        • Reduces self-efficacy
        • Impairs sense of self-worth
  • Institutional stigma: A  systemic form of stigma that creates barriers to opportunities
    • Stereotypes and prejudices
      • Mental health misconceptions are embedded in the cultural norms, government policies and laws, corporation policies, and organization policies of society
    • Discrimination
      • Intentional and unintentional barriers to opportunities
        • Fewer mental health resources
        • Limited employment opportunities

Thus, the external and internal harm that stigma causes highlights the need for MHL. With more accurate MHL, you can dismantle mental health misconceptions to rediscover your self-worth for recovery. You deserve access to effective and personalized support that addresses your specific needs. Looking at mental health misconceptions for common disorders can help you break down barriers to care.

Breaking Down Mental Health Misconceptions About Anxiety, PTSD, and OCD

There are a lot of mental health misconceptions about anxiety and anxiety-related disorders despite the prevalence of anxiety. As the World Health Organization (WHO) notes, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the world. Approximately 4%, or 301 million people across the world, have had challenges with an anxiety disorder. Thus, addressing mental health misconceptions of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders can help reduce negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself.

Listed below are some of the common myths and facts about anxiety disorders, PTSD, and OCD:

  • Anxiety disorders
    • You are just shy
      • While shyness and social anxiety have commonalities, social anxiety can be disruptive to every part of your life
        • Shyness may make it difficult to talk to new people, but your discomfort dissipates over a short time
        • Social anxiety leads to a distressing amount of fear and embarrassment that you try to avoid
  • PTSD
    • Only soldiers have PTSD
      • Traumatic experiences can happen to anyone regardless of where they are or their work
        • Losing your home in a fire or witnessing a mugging can be just as traumatizing as combat violence
    • You are weak if you cannot get over trauma experiences
      • PTSD is a normal response to distressing and life-threatening experiences
        • There are a variety of protective and risk factors that can contribute to PTSD
  • OCD
    • Everyone is a little OCD
      • Some people like to keep things organized and clean more than others, but that does not mean they have OCD
        • OCD is a real and debilitating disorder when left untreated
          • You cannot easily turn off your obsessions and compulsions
          • Your obsessions and compulsions impede functioning

Many factors, including violent portrayals of individuals with mental health disorders like PTSD, have contributed to mental health misconceptions. Thus, comparing the myths of disorders can help you recognize that you are not weak or a danger to society. Digging into lesser-understood disorders like bipolar disorder and disordered eating can give you insight into yourself and your worthiness for healing.

Understanding the Mental Health Misconceptions of Bipolar Disorder and Disordered Eating

As Cassandra Miasnikov notes in “Myths and Facts of Bipolar Disorder,” many popular shows present negative images of disorders like BP. Some fictional portrayals can bring awareness to different mental health disorders. However, many flawed representations of mental health disorders are people’s only encounters with these disorders. Therefore, addressing the mental health misconceptions behind the oversaturation of flawed representations can change the way you see yourself. Listed below are some myths and facts about bipolar disorder and disordered eating:

  • Bipolar disorder
    • You are just moody
      • Everyone experiences fluctuations in their mood throughout the day, but bipolar disorder is a severe shift in your energy, activity, and sleep
  • Disordered eating
    • Only girls have eating disorders
      • Anyone can develop an eating disorder regardless of gender or sex
        • While women have a higher prevalence, eating disorders are common among men as well
        • Transgender and non-binary individuals have a higher prevalence of eating disorders than cisgender men and women
    • Treatment is accessible to everyone
      • Eating disorders do not happen to only White girls and women or wealthy people, but treatment options are often catered to majority communities
        • Women of color are less likely to be correctly diagnosed with an eating disorder compared to their White counterparts
    • Only underweight people have eating disorders
      • Having an eating disorder is not directly related to your actual weight or body shape
        • Eating disorders are based on body weight and shape influencing your sense of self-worth, body image, and pervasive thoughts about your body

Increasing your awareness of the facts of misunderstood disorders highlights the impact mental health misconceptions can have on your life. Mental health misconceptions not only harm your perception of yourself but cause intersectional harm as well. When you hold mental health misconceptions about who can develop certain disorders, you create devastating barriers to care. Thus, with more awareness, you can understand and dismantle controversial mental health misconceptions like intimacy disorders.

Intimacy Disorders: Dismantling Controversial Misconceptions

Challenges with intimacy disorders are often categorized as sex addiction and love addiction. Intimacy disorders are often perceived as controversial compared to other disorders because of societal and cultural norms. Addressing the mental health misconceptions about intimacy disorders can help alleviate stigma and empower individuals to seek treatment and recovery. Listed below are some of the myths and facts about intimacy disorders:

  • Sex addiction
    • Only men have a sex addiction
      • Anyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation can develop a sex addiction
        • Women are more often criticized for the same sexual behavior as men
          • Less likely to seek treatment compared to men because of societal stigma and cultural norms
  • Love addiction
    • Being obsessed with love is normal, especially for women
      • Love addiction is a real disorder that negatively impacts you and your relationships
        • The media often portrays women as love-crazy, which supports normalizing unhealthy obsessive behaviors

With a better understanding of mental health conditions, you can dispel mental health misconceptions to heal.

Supporting Destigmatization Through Knowledge at The Guest House

At The Guest House, we know recovering from challenges like mental health disorders is an ongoing process across your life. Thus, expanding your awareness, knowledge, and understanding of mental health conditions is vital to supporting your long-term well-being. When you can understand your difficulties, there is more space to build healthy coping strategies to address your challenges. Moreover, increasing your knowledge of mental health misconceptions empowers you to recognize you are worthy of existence, love, and healing.

Therefore, we are committed to providing a holistic approach to care to treat you as a whole person. Through an individualized treatment plan, you have access to multiple stages of the recovery process to address your specific needs. Although mental health misconceptions can leave you feeling powerless, supporting destigmatization with MHL helps you advocate for a fulfilling life in recovery. With a variety of therapeutic modalities and evidence-based therapies, you can make meaning out of your experiences and find purpose.

Mental health misconceptions are detrimental to treatment-seeking behavior and your overall well-being. Myths and misconceptions about conditions like anxiety, PTSD, OCD, bipolar disorder, disordered eating, and intimacy disorders can lead to public, self, and institutional stigma. All types of mental health stigma include negative attitudes and beliefs and intentional and unintentional discrimination that impedes access to effective mental health treatment. Thus, mental health myths can further reduce important features like self-esteem and self-worth for positive well-being. However, with increased awareness, knowledge, and understanding of mental health conditions, you can support destigmatization and empower long-term healing. Therefore, at The Guest House, we are committed to providing individualized, holistic, evidence-based therapies to help you thrive. Call us at (855) 483-7800 today.