facts & myths

Myth

If I have a mental health problem I should be able to take care of it myself.

Fact

Some mental health problems, such as mild depression or anxiety, can be relieved with support, self-help, and proper care. However, if problems or symptoms persist, a person should consult with their primary doctor or a qualified mental health professional.

Myth

If I have a mental illness, it is a sign of weakness- it's my fault.

Fact

Mental illness is not anyone's fault, anymore than heart disease or diabetes is a person's fault. According to the Surgeon General's report: "Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof), associated with distress and/ or impaired functioning."

Mental Illnesses are not a condition that people choose to have or not have. Mental illnesses are not results of willful, petulant behavior. No one should have to feel ashamed of this condition any more than any other medical condition.

Myth

If I seek help for my mental health problem, others will think I am "crazy."

Fact

No one should delay getting treatment for a mental health problem that is not getting better, just as one would not wait to take care of a medical condition that needed treatment. Some people worry that others will avoid them if they seek treatment for their mental illness. Early treatment can produce better results. Seeking appropriate help is a sign of strength not weakness.

Myth

People diagnosed with a mental illness are always ill and out of touch with reality.

Fact

Most people suffering from even the most severe of mental illnesses are in touch with reality more often than they are not. Many people quietly bear the symptoms of mental illness without ever showing signs of their illness to others, and most people with mental illness live productive, active lives.

Myth

Stress causes mental illness.

Fact

This is only partially true. Stress may occasionally trigger an episode or cause symptoms such as anxiety or depression, but persistent symptoms appear to be biological in nature. There are probably many things that can contribute to mental illness- the cause is not yet fully understood.

Myth

People who have mental illness are dangerous.

Fact

People who have mental illness are not more violent than is someone suffering from cancer or any other serious disease.

Myth

Most people with mental illness live on the streets or are in mental hospitals.

Fact

Over two-thirds of Americans who have a mental illness live in the community and lead productive lives. Most people who need hospitalization are only there for brief periods to get treatment and are then able to return home, just like people hospitalized for other conditions. Some people with mental illness do become homeless and could benefit from treatment and services.

Please note: This guide is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be used as a diagnostic tool. It is very important that you seek a professional evaluation if you have concerns about yourself or a loved one.