Mental Health Myths and Facts

Myth: Mental challenges are uncommon.

Fact: Nearly 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 children in the United States have or have had a diagnosable mental illness. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of and is common around the world. Most people will face a mental health challenge at some point in their lives.1,2

Myth: Those with mental illness are broken and caused the problem.

Fact: You are not “broken” if you have mental illness, and you did not cause it. Mental illness is complex. Doctors believe that genes, environment, and lifestyle interact with life events or situations to lead to the development of mental illness. A stressful job may be a trigger for some, while trauma might be for others. Not all people who have such events or situations develop mental illness.1,2

Myth: Mental illness is not an actual illness or health condition.

Fact: Mental illness is real. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Stigma and the negative thoughts around mental illness continues to keep this myth going. It is important to know that this myth is false.1

Myth: Those with mental illness are dangerous and violent.

Fact: The majority of those with mental illness are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. In fact, those with severe mental illness are 10 times more likely to be the victims of violence than those without mental illness are.3

Myth: People should “just snap out of it.”

Fact: Like other myths, this one is harmful to those with mental illness. This myth suggests that those with mental illness are not trying hard enough to get better. The reality is that mental health disorders are medical conditions that need medical treatment. Many people with mental illness are doing the best they can to manage or improve their mental health, but their symptoms still persist.3

Myth: Those with mental illness cannot hold a job.

Fact: People with mental illness are productive members of society. Sadly, this myth keeps many with mental illness away from the job market. The impact of unemployment or underemployment on society as a whole is huge. Those with mental illness should be encouraged to enter or re-enter the workforce, and employers may be required by law to provide reasonable accommodations. Those with mental health challenges can be just as successful as those without.3,4

Myth: Therapy is a waste of time.

Fact:Therapy is a valuable treatment for many, but not all, people with mental illness. Research has shown that therapy can not only improve daily function, but is also cost-effective and can decrease the need for hospitalization. There are different forms of therapy, and those considering it as a treatment option should talk to their doctor or mental health provider.3,5

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Written by: Michael Booth and Katie Murphy| Last reviewed: March 2021