Those with mental illnesses are often stigmatised as people are confused over what is the truth … and a lot of what we hear is simply misinformation! For example,
Fiction: There’s no hope for those diagnosed with mental illness.
Truth: There are numerous treatments and forms of support that make it possible for those with mental illness to hold down jobs and lead a normal life.
Fiction: There’s nothing I can do to make a difference in their lives.
Truth: The way you speak and act can make a huge difference. It can promote understanding or it can add to the burden. For example, seek to separate the person from the diagnosis (So instead of calling him or her a schizophrenic, describe them as a person with schizophrenia). Also, don’t label them as crazy or inferior. That is both insulting and inaccurate. Those with mental illness should be treated with respect; they have the same rights as others in society.
Fiction: They’re more likely to be violent than the average person.
Truth: There is no evidence that those with mental illness are any more violent than another person (but they ARE more likely to be victims of crime.)
Fiction: I’m not at risk of mental illnesses myself.
Truth: Mental illnesses are common - more than half the population will receive a diagnosis at some point in their life. It will likely affect their wider family, too.
Fiction: Mental illness is related to mental retardation.
Truth: The two are not related in any way at all. Mental illness affects a person’s mood, thoughts and behaviour; retardation affects their intellectual functioning and creates some challenges for daily functioning.
Fiction: Mental illnesses are caused by a weak character.
Truth: Mental illnesses are caused by a number of factors – social, biological, emotional, psychological, environmental, or a mix of these.
Fiction: Those with mental illnesses can’t hold down a job (or they’re less effective than most other employees).
Truth: Studies conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) showed no differences in productivity between those with mental illness and those without mental illness.
Fiction: Children don’t suffer from mental illnesses. What we see is bad behaviour due to poor parenting. Many kids just want attention and have been spoiled by their parents.
Truth: 5-9 % of children are diagnosed with a recognised form of mental illness. However, they can still succeed at school and in relationships if they receive the understanding and support they deserve.