• Gus Gale

Mental Health Myths: Busted

COVID-19 has presented different challenges for everyone. The last few weeks have been stressful, confusing and uncertain. Lockdown has brought feelings of loneliness and isolation for some, deeper anxieties and mental health challenges for others.

Going through a pandemic is difficult at the best of times, but for those already managing mental health struggles, experiencing isolation and lockdowns can bring up tough emotions and coping mechanisms.

It’s important to keep discussions about mental health going throughout the pandemic and in the aftermath as we all try to adapt to the new normal. One of the best ways to keep these conversations going is to break down the stigma around mental health and mental illnesses; to counter old ideas or myths about mental illness.

Read on for our take on some of those mental illness myths!

MYTH ONE: Mental illnesses can’t be cured – they are for life.

False. With early identification and the correct treatment, many people will fully recover and have no further episodes or relapses- dependent on the mental illness.

For others, similar to chronic physical health issues like diabetes, mental illness may be recurring and need ongoing treatment. However, the same way physical illnesses can be managed, so too can mental illnesses, allowing individuals to continue living life to its fullest.

Whilst it’s true that some people may become disabled due to mental illness, this doesn’t mean that the individuals cannot live full, productive lives. Support systems are becoming more and more available, with more services, support groups and resources out there than ever before.

MYTH TWO: People are born with mental illness.

False. Whilst mental illnesses can have a genetic link in some cases, there are many factors that contribute to the onset of mental illness. Stress, grief, abuse, unemployment and isolation can all impact an individual’s mental health – without any genetic links or family history. Mental illness can happen to anyone, regardless of background or circumstance.

As our understanding of people’s experiences with mental health grows, so too does our understanding of the causes, symptoms and treatments.

MYTH THREE: People with mental illness are dangerous or violent.

False. Research has consistently shown that there is very limited evidence to support the idea that people living with mental illness are generally more violent than anyone else. In fact, people living with mental illness have been shown as more likely to be the victims of violence than other people – particularly for those with complex mental health issues. Research consistently shows that people with mental illness are also more at risk of suicide and self-harm.

The term ‘mental illness’ is very broad and encompasses within it a number of complex behaviours of varying degrees. Making general assumptions like those listed only spreads fear and misunderstanding. Thinking someone is violent or ‘incurable,’ is not only unhelpful but dangerous. Keep yourself and your friends educated. Help break the stigma.

If you or someone you know needs to talk – please see below for a list of resources.

Crisis resources

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Lifeline 13 11 14

Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467

Call 000 for urgent medical attention or police attendance

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