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Myths and Facts related to Mental Health


Many a time what may stop us from seeking help for our mental health is a piece of information that is actually a myth. Such myths can be deep-rooted, based on what now seems obvious, logical or reasonable, making the need to challenge these rationales important if we hope to improve our own mental health awareness and literacy. Here are a few starting points to do so:

Myth #1: Mental Health problems only affect the few (or at least won’t affect me or people I know)

Fact: Concerns or illness related to mental health can affect anyone, regardless of gender, economic status, educational backgrounds, etc. The most recent survey conducted across India (National Mental Health Survey, 2017) estimates that 14 percent of the country’s population is dealing with  mental health problem os varying severity, most of which go untreated. While most conditions are known to be entirely treatable if not managed, existence of barriers to accessing mental healthcare services, such as stigma related to mental health, make it difficult to seek proper help and support. If not by you, such concerns would likely be experienced by someone you know: at home, work, or elsewhere.

Myth #2: Mental Health problems, or mental illness, is a sign of personal weakness, bad parenting or low intelligence.

Fact: Mental health conditions are caused by an interaction of various biological, environmental and social factors. These can include one’s family history, experience of physical, psychological or emotional trauma, among others. Experience of related symptoms are not to be taken as a personal failing or to be related to one’s intelligence or education as these can affect anyone.

Myth #3: You only need to take steps to better your mental health (such as, taking therapy) if you have a mental illness

Fact: Anyone could benefit from taking care of their mental health, even when there is no specific ‘need‘ to. Just as with physical health, good mental health and wellbeing relate not just to an absence of illness, but with other factors such as the ability to cope with changing situations, to understand and deal with one’s emotions, to initiate and maintain one’s relationships in a healthy manner, etc. 

Myth #4: There is nothing I can do for someone who’s experiencing mental health problems.

Fact: Presence of social support (such as from friends, family or a mental health professional) has long been known as an positive predictor for recovery from mental health conditions. Anyone can learn how to recognise the signs often observed in such conditions, then to reach out and provide support for the same (for instance, by the process of providing mental health first aid).

Myth #5: A person with mental illness is bound to be dangerous, unpredictable, and/or violent

Fact: While words like ‘crazy’, ‘mental’, and ‘psycho’ are commonly used to refer to persons living with mental illness, this usage is related often to an inaccurate and harmful portrayal of such persons (especially in popular culture and media). Symptoms of various mental health conditions can actually present in different ways across individuals and cultures – in a spectrum – and contrary to common perception, some studies have instead found that the persons experiencing them are more likely to be the victims of violence than perpetrators. 

Myth #6: Persons with mental illness cannot function in society

Fact: Mental health stressors and concerns can impact anyone, and anyone could learn how to manage such concerns better. That being said, while mental illness can have a more severe impact on one’s functionality, persons living with such conditions are also capable to being productive and leading meaningful lives.

Myth #7: Recovering from mental illness is bound to be long, tedious and scary journey

Fact: While recovery from any mental health concern can indeed be slow, the duration and course of treatment can vary vastly. In India, any and all choices related to treatment methods are also now legally meant to be made by the individual living with mental illness. ‘Scary’ treatment methods such as forceful hospitalization, chaining up, beating or other physical violence against individuals and improper adminisatration of electro-convulsive (shock) therapy are also illegal and considered as a violation of the patient’s fundamental human rights. 

Myth #8: If you’re going to therapy, it means that there is something wrong with you, or that you’re going ‘crazy’

Fact: The ‘need‘ for therapy, or for seeking any kind of professional support can be different for different people. Therapy is meant for more than just dealing with specific symptoms; it’s meant to help individuals live better lives by realising and making changes as they wish to. Reaching out for help when you need it is actually known as a vital part of making meaningful human connections in life, whether professional or personal.

Myth #9: Mental health professionals (like psychologists and psychiatrists) are trained to read minds and know what’s best for the people under their care

Fact: While mental health professionals are certainly trained in making observations and assessments based on another’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours, no one could say what is going on in their mind with absolute certainty. The intent behind taking such training is primarily to support and empower the people under their care, and not to encourage dependence by telling them what’s best, or by providing unsolicited advice

Myth #10: Mental illness can be treated with prayers, positive thoughts or a lifestyle change.

Fact: While prayers, positive thoughts and lifestyle changes (such as sleeping on time, working out) as great at enhancing wellbeing and mental health, and may also supplement efforts to fasten recovery from mental illness, they are most effective when used in conjunction with a treatment plan designed with help from a mental health professional. 

This article  includes opinions expressed by a mental health professional. But we were humans long before we trained as professionals, and so are always looking to learn better! If you found that any of the above is inaccurate, irrelevant or unhelpful, or would like to suggest ways to make this article more helpful in any way – or would like us to address any other myths and misconceptions related to mental health, please let us know in the comments below.

Read the article, and wondering what’s next ? 
  • I want to take action now: If reading the above information has led you to decide that what you need is professional help, here’s a little bit about how our professionals work in case you would like to schedule a free consultation with us: our professionals’ work is based on a ‘recovery-oriented’ model, which believes in providing a space where each individual feels in charge of their own meaning of recovery from mental health concerns/illness. The aim of support isn’t just to reduce symptoms or to go back to the level of functioning that was, but rather to learn to emphasize one’s resilience and to hold space for those in distress as one is attempting to achieve short- and long-term recovery/life goals
  • If you wish to know more about Therapy, please go through these FAQs; you could also look up articles on our blog 
  • I want more help about how to broach the topic of my mental health with friend/loved one as/before I book a session

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