Just remember that sometimes, the way you think about a person isn’t the way they actually are.John Green
Even in a current generation where discussions and understanding of mental health is better, and coverage is aplenty, it’s safe to say that the majority of people suffering with a mental illness will encounter some form of stigma, discrimination, stereotyping or negative interaction at one point or another in their lives. As someone who has experienced numerous misconceptions over the course of my life, I believe it’s important that we challenge negative attitudes and educate people around how to treat people suffering with mental illness. After all, it’s hard enough battling a debilitating mental health problem without other people making you feel guilty, weak or strange. Today I’ll be sharing some of the most common mental health misconceptions, with the aim of making more people aware of the damage certain words/action can do to others!
- All Schizophrenics are murderers/extremely violent
When a major event such as a school shooting or mass murder occurs, how often do you hear that the person committing such an atrocity ‘must have had a serious mental illness’ and be labelled as just another unhinged man/woman with a grudge who’s evil, hugely troubled and just another person to be cancelled from society? Now I don’t know about you but in my opinion it happens all too often. While I’m by no means condoning violent acts, my key point is that it’s extremely damaging to put people into boxes and generalise all people living with a particular condition like Schizophrenia as dangerous. All that does is lead to more stigma and problems for people facing mental health issues across society. The reality of mental health problems is that people are more often a risk to themselves than to other people.
2. Mental illness has become a ‘trend’
Due to what I predict is because of the nature of more frequent and honest conversations about mental health, some people may be jumping on the bandwagon that mental illness has blended into some sort of fashion statement or trend. That being said, I believe the only reason people are jumping to such negative conclusions is a result of a current generation which shows greater understanding and empathy to those facing such difficulties everyday. And that can only be a good thing. Yes stigma still exists amongst some, however the topic of mental health has been cast into the spotlight increasingly over recent years. The term trend only serves to put people off from talking about their emotions.
3. Those with mental health problems are unreliable and less capable
Although an illness such as depression, OCD or PTSD brings undeniable stresses, pressures and barriers to overcome, the mere notion that simply suffering with a condition like the ones listed above makes you clearly unreliable and less capable is both disgraceful and absurd. There may be days or certain times when a mental health problem makes it harder for someone to work or do particular tasks, however there are plenty of people out there who have enjoyed successful, fulfilled lives while dealing with a mental illness. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Demi Lovato. Prince Harry. Cara Delevigne. There are just a few of endless amounts of people who have achieved unbelievable success despite encountering inner demons. It shouldn’t ever be a case of ‘writing some off’ just because they struggle mentally.
4. Recovery is a clear cut process
While there are undoubtedly people out there that have catapulted their lives from the peak of despair and rock bottom to happy, fruitful lives, it’s important for us to remember that reaching a stage of recovery doesn’t mean people are ‘cured’ of a mental health condition. There will be ups and downs. Successes and failures. People are very unlikely to go from struggling severely to experiencing no symptoms in a short space of time. Unlike many physical illnesses, there isn’t a set time period to recover. You can learn to manage a mental health condition, but it never disappears completely.
5. Suicide is selfish
While the after-effects of a suicide on friends, family members, work colleagues etc. can be absolutely devastating, it’s vital that we as a society recognise that the act of one taking their own life isn’t to hurt or cause pain to other people. When a person reaches a places of such mental unrest and suffering that they believe suicide is the only option available to them, shouldn’t we shift our thoughts and consider what may have contributed to them taking their life? I fully understand that grief does funny things to people, or that you may not have experienced suicidal thoughts yourself, but the only thing that shaming suicide victims achieves is creating more stigma and discouraging many people from speaking out. If you or anybody you know is feeling in a similar fashion, please seek professional support or confide in somebody you trust.
P.S. Check out my support page for a list of useful helplines and websites!
Thanks for reading,