Mental health disorders are still not well understood or accepted by the public at large. However, most families will have someone with a mental health problem at some time in their lives, and learning the facts about these issues can help them to assist affected family members more effectively. Here are a few of the common misconceptions about mental health disorders, and what you should know about them:
1. People With Mental Health Issues Are Dangerous
Individuals with mental health disorders are no more likely to be aggressive or act out than anyone else. Only 3 to 5 percent of the violent acts that are committed can be attributed to individuals with mental health problems. In general, mental health disorders only affect the individuals themselves and those close to them. However, individuals with mental health problems are 10 times more likely to be victims of a violent crime.
2. Medication Can Stop Mental Health Symptoms Immediately
A number of medications are used to help individuals with mental health disorders, and these drugs can be very effective for managing symptoms and allowing them to engage in their normal activities. However, some of these medications must be taken for several weeks before they control the symptoms of the disorder. In addition, the drugs can produce side effects that can be dangerous. Anyone on medications should be in close touch with their physicians or counselors.
3. Mental Illness Is a Sign of Weakness
Mental health disorders are not a sign of character deficiency or lack of will to cope. In many cases, these disorders occur because of genetic factors and brain chemistry that are triggered by certain external or internal conditions. The symptoms cannot be “willed” away, and they cannot be ignored. Appropriate treatment is the only way to help individuals manage the symptoms and return to their normal activities.
4. Mental Health Problems Are Forever
While it’s true that some mental health disorders must be managed throughout a person’s life, other illnesses can be of short duration. In many cases of depression or anxiety, individuals may take medication for a period of time and may learn additional methods that help them to eliminate the medication later on. However, each individual is different, and a counselor or someone with a master’s degree in social work can advise the person on how to deal with problems that occur in personal relationships or on the job.
If you, or someone close to you, have a mental health disorder, learn more about the issues involved and what you can do to help. Eliminating the secrecy surrounding these problems can be critical in helping those who have these disorders learn to manage them more effectively.