Common myths about mental illness
Choma, have you ever noticed how easy it is for false information about something to be spread, especially when it’s not well understood? This happens a lot with mental illness. What makes spreading these myths so dangerous is that a lot of people might stay undiagnosed and not get the help they need because the stigma around mental health makes them feel ashamed. So here are a few myths and why they’re not true.
“Depression will go away if you just think positively”
Choma, I always encourage you to have a positive mind set because it is healthy, but it’s important to remember that mental illnesses are complicated and aren’t as easy to deal with. Think about someone who has a broken arm, it wouldn’t make any sense to make them feel like they can just heal their bones if they keep positive thoughts, right? So when people suffering from mental illnesses are told to just be happy, it ignores the real struggle that they go through, which is hurtful and problematic.
“Mental illness can’t be treated”
Even though some mental illnesses can’t be completely cured, this doesn’t mean they can’t be treated over time. A professional health service provider or a psychiatrist is there to help you figure out what kind of therapy you need to manage the illness so that it doesn’t get in the way of your everyday life. It’s not always a simple, one-step to healing Choma, and sometimes different therapy methods need to be tried to find the ones that work for you.
“Being mentally ill makes you different”
Having a mental illness may change your life in some ways but it doesn’t make you different or “not normal”. You can still enjoy all the things you used to enjoy, keep the same friends you had and be yourself because the condition shouldn’t define who you are. The fact that you have a mental illness doesn’t mean you are your illness.
“Mental illness means you’re crazy”
Choma, calling someone “crazy” when they’re suffering from a mental illness/disorder is very problematic and contributes to negative stigma around mental illnesses. We should be trying to end the stigma so that people with it don’t feel ashamed to get the help they need. When we stop using negative words to describe people who have these conditions, we give them the space and the safety to talk about what they’re going through without being judged, which can help others understand their situation a lot better so that there are less false ideas about what mental illness is.
Choma, making pre-judgements about a situation or condition you’re not sure of can be very dangerous to the people who experience it daily. We should always strive to learn more about the things that other people go through so we can understand them.
Mental Illness, in whatever form, should be taken seriously. If you or someone you know might be struggling with a mental illness, visit SADAG (The South African Depression Group).
If you need advice or help, remember that you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657)
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