In recent years, our society has made significant strides towards accepting and acknowledging the importance of mental wellness. While there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness, the conversation around it has begun, resulting in many people being more open about their issues. Right from easy access to mental health professionals, to getting support from loved ones – we are slowly moving towards a world which is more empathetic to those suffering from mental illness.
However, while we are taking significant steps in the right direction, there is still a fair amount of denial around the subject. There is also misinformation regarding the mental illness itself, deterring people from seeking help. From misinformation spread via unassuming Whatsapp messages, to discouraging people from seeking help because of the supposed shame it would bring – treating mental illness and taking care of mental health is not always simple.
Often, a family member or a friend might downplay the trouble in our mind, or dismiss it as a “passing phase”, or worse, accuse us of seeking attention. We are afraid of talking about our vulnerabilities – for fear of being shamed or being called ‘crazy’. But sometimes, it is time to take things in your own hands and the first step to seeking help is to educate yourself with the right information. Here are some common misconceptions and myths regarding mental health:
Myth #1: “Mental health problems are permanent”
A mental health diagnosis does not mean one has to live with the condition for life. Each individual’s experience with mental illness is different – while some experience episodes of illness, others deal with the condition over extended periods of time. Many find that treatment – either therapy or medication – helps them find a balance in their lives, and manage their condition. The takeaway here is that while seeking help has different effects on different people, they do recover to an extent. However, recovery also depends on the person. While for some, it might mean a complete cure of the condition; for others, it is learning how to live with the illness.
Some mental health problems are treatable, whereas some are curable. People with mental health problems can function well socially, work, live and learn new things. Just like physical ailments, even mental health issues vary.
Myth #2: “Postpartum depression does not exist”
Many believe that postpartum depression doesn’t exist, and dismiss it as “baby blues”. However, studies have shown that it is a real thing – it usually occurs within a year of giving birth and entails intense worry about the baby, obsessive thoughts of suicide or fears of harming the baby. Approximately 1 in 9 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers suffer from postpartum depression. Many also assume that the condition will just go away once you settle in with the baby.
Postpartum depression is a treatable medical condition. Seek help from a mental health professional if your symptoms get worse, or if you feel you are unable to take care of the baby.
Myth #3: “Mental illness is a sign of weakness”
Mental illnesses are illnesses. If someone is suffering from a chronic disease, or a broken leg, hardly do we ever consider it a sign of weakness. It is not the result of a weak character, but merely an ailment of the mind. Like physical diseases, mental illnesses need an expert for diagnosis, treatment and management. If anything, the opposite is true. It takes an incredible amount of strength to overcome a mental health condition.
Myth #4: “Mental health problems will never affect me”
Mental health problems are common and can affect anyone. Even people who have led happy lives can develop mental illnesses. According to WHO, 1 in 4 people suffer from a neurological or mental illness in their lifetime. It is important to accept that mental illness is like any other physical illness – it can happen to anyone, at any point in time in their lives.
Myth #5: “Only people without friends need therapists”
Friends and family can play a significant role in one’s mental well-being; but in some cases they can be counterproductive to achieving mental peace. You are not alone if you find yourself in a conflicted relationship with either a family member, a friend or a partner.
A professional, on the other hand, is trained to identify and help overcome the core issue. They look at the problem objectively and impersonally, and act as a neutral party for you to feel comfortable with and open up to. There is a difference between structured talk therapy and a chat with friends. The former is confidential, objective and focused on helping the individual.
Myth #6: “People with mental health conditions cannot work”
The age-old myth that people with mental health conditions are unproductive and cannot hold down a job is absolutely untrue and has been debunked several times. While some severe conditions might deter people from going to work, most people with mental illnesses ranging from severe to mild can be as productive as those without mental health conditions.
To Sum It Up:
Mental health matters. It is important to dispel myths and misconceptions and encourage others to seek help. Our mental state affects every aspect of our lives – professional and personal. It is best to acknowledge, accept, and seek help when we are dealing with mental health issues. Get in touch with an expert from the comfort of your home on DocVita: www.docvita.com.