1 of 5 Americans will experience a diagnosable mental disorder within their lifetime.
2. Problems Caused by Sufferer
People do need to take responsibility for their own thoughts and behaviors, they are not to blame. There is a difference between taking responsibility and accepting blame. Too often, most people confuse these two.
3. Purely Biological
Some mental health professionals and advocacy organizations feel that mistruths, like this one, may advance their professional biases or political agendas. Mental health problems are not caused strictly by “bad” genes or a chemical imbalance. Any mental health care professional who claims different is telling a half-truth.
Individuals with a diagnosed disorder, such as depression, are told they must take medication. However, when they ask their physician about how long they have to remain on medication, the answer is often something like: “As long as it is needed.” Most medications, other than those such as prescribed for schizophrenia, should be taken for short-term symptom relief. Some medications have withdrawal effects that are frequently worse than the original problem.
5. Psychotherapy Takes Forever
Modern psychotherapy can be short-term and solution oriented. Most psychotherapy methodologies use a cognitive-behavioral model, emphasizing irrational thoughts which lead to dysfunctional behaviors. Cognitive therapy emphasizes learning what the behaviors and thoughts are and how to change them. Often this takes only a few weeks. Most common mental health disorders can be treated in a matter of months instead of years.
6. I Can Handle It; If I Can’t, I’m Weak
The first part of the statement is not so much a myth as most people who have a mental health problem do not seek help and treatment. They rely on their traditional coping methods such as exercise, eating, work, etc. Problems which may be diagnosable often are also mild enough for this type of “self-treatment” to work. Talking with friends, reading a self-help book or even participating in a self-help, online, support gorup might be enough to get a person through it.
When the problems become overwhelming it is a sign that more help is needed. Needing help is not a sign that aperson is weak. Recognizing the need for additional help is an indicator that a person realizes and accepts their limitations.
7. Admitting Problems Means Everyone Thinks You’re Crazy
Crazy is a generic term and is meaningless. Everybod gets a little crazy now and then. Having a mental disorder doesn’t mean a person is crazy. It just means a problem exists, like a medical problem, and treatment is needed. A family member wouldn’t think less of a person if that person had caner. Why would they think any less for experiencing anxiety or depression.
8. Being Suicidal Means a Person is Crazy
Suicidal feelings are often symptoms of depression or other mood disorder. Being suicidal doesn’t make a person any more, or less, crazy than anyone else. Suicidan feelings go away when adequate treatment for depression is provided.
9. Mental Health Problems are Best Treated by Primary Care Physicians
No matter their specialty, every mental health professional agrees that diagnosable mental health problems are best treated by a trained mental health specialist. Regardless if that professional is a psychologist, psychiatrist or other clinician specifically trained to diagnose and treat mental health problems, the best and highest quality care occurs when seen by them instead of a general practitioner.
Mental health disorders ought to be taken as seriously as any chronic and disabling medical problem.
10. Mental Health Professionals Make a Ton of Money
In the not-too-distant-past, this was true. No longer. Actually, due to the expansion of managed care, mental health care is among the lowest paying niches in the healthcare profession. Most of the many mental health workers work in the field because they want to, not because of the pay. Actually, psychiatrists are often among the lowest-paid physician specialty fields.