World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year to raise awareness about mental health issues and spark conversations in support of mental health. One of the benefits of the pandemic has been the recognition that mental health is as vital to our ongoing well being as our physical health. . There may still be some education necessary around mental health, and through equipping ourselves with the correct information, we can better understand and support those with mental health conditions. Let’s explore some of the most common misconceptions about mental health:
Myth #1: Mental health conditions are rare.
The truth is, mental health conditions are more common than you think. In 2001, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental disorders at some point in their lives. According to WHO, mental health illnesses, particularly depression, are one of the main causes of disability worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the situation, disrupting mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide while the demand increases.
Myth #2: Mental illnesses are incurable.
The road to recovery is available with proper treatment and intervention. It is completely possible for patients to manage their condition and eventually recover. Every individual’s experience with a mental health condition is different, and “recovery” may mean different things to different people. Some may consider recovery as a return to how life was before symptoms began, while for others, it may mean relieving symptoms and living a rewarding life. Whatever it may be, understand that being diagnosed with mental illness is not a “life sentence” and many people eventually get better.
Myth #3: Mental health issues are a sign of weakness.
Mental health issues have nothing to do with being weak. Many factors can contribute to mental health illnesses, including biological factors like brain chemistry, genes and physical illness or injury. Traumatic life experiences, abuse and a family history of mental health conditions are all possible causes of mental illness.
Myth #4: People with mental health issues can just snap out of it.
Just like how someone can’t help falling sick, mental health issues are not within the control of the patient. Therefore, it is not something that individuals can choose to “snap out” of. To get better, people suffering from mental health conditions will need the help of a doctor and/or associated allied health professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists,, as well as loads of care and understanding from the people around them.
Myth #5: Children cannot suffer from mental illnesses.
Adults are not the only people who can suffer from mental illness. In fact, half of all mental health conditions begin by age 14, but most cases are left undetected and untreated. Adolescence is a unique and formative period, and exposure to abuse or violence during this crucial time can make adolescents more vulnerable to mental illnesses. If left unaddressed, mental health conditions can extend to adulthood and limit individuals’ potential to leading fulfilling lives.
Myth #6: I can’t do anything to help people with mental health issues.
Even today some people may feel there is a stigma attached to mental health disorders. It is often the reason why people hesitate getting professional help. Friends and loved ones can make a significant difference to the lives of those suffering from mental health conditions by helping. Here are some signs and symptoms that may indicate someone is having a mental health challenge:
- a noticeable change in usual behaviour
- feeling down for some time and not seeming to be
getting any better
- lack of energy and motivation to do everyday things
- withdrawal from friends and activities
- emotional outbursts
- significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- increased use of alcohol or other drugs
- major changes in eating habits
- working longer hours
If you are suffering from mental health issues, know that you are not alone and help is just round the corner. Our kind and experienced doctors at Osler Health have experience in helping patients with mental health concerns. The doctors view your mental health as as important as your physical health.
The Osler team have developed the following Mental Health factsheet to help: