Families facing a mental illness together encounter many obstacles—not least the difficulty in sorting fact from fiction. Decades of stigma surrounding mental health issues have led to much misinformation; even among those who are open to learning more about mental health, it can be hard to distinguish actual reality from received wisdom.
Consider some of the following views about mental health—all of them pervasive, and all of them false.
MYTH: Mental health disorders are fairly uncommon; if you’re facing one, you’re in the overwhelming minority.
FACT: According to mentalhealth.gov, about one in five American adults faces a serious, diagnosable mental health disorder. Having a mental health issue is by no means an uncommon experience.
MYTH: Mental illnesses are not “real” illnesses.
FACT: Nobody chooses to have mental illness, and nobody can simply will a mental illness away. Mental illnesses are chronic in nature, similar to hypertension or diabetes. Mental illness are biological chronic illness that respond to treatment and lifestyle change.
MYTH: Mental health problems arise from bad parenting or poor family environments.
FACT: There are many factors that contribute to mental health disorders, including genetics, life experience, and yes, the home environment. Family members can play a big role in support and recovery, yet no mental health disorder can ever be attributed solely to bad parenting.
MYTH: People do not recover from mental health disorders.
FACT: People can recover from mental health disorders, and do all the time! The important point is that individuals with mental health disorders seek the therapy and treatment services they need, and receive ongoing support from their friends and loved ones. That starts with separating the truth from the myths!
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