Mental illness is a condition that continuously or frequently disturbs one’s emotions and mood. We are all familiar with the term ‘mental illness’ or ‘mental disorder’ but do not accept it as a natural body reaction like that of a physical disorder. In fact, a report by WHO says that Indians have a very indifferent behaviour towards mental illness or those who have a mental illness.
A survey confirms this by concluding that around 47% of Indians are very judgemental about those suffering from mental disorders. This can be due to a lack of awareness among common people and the prevalence of some shocking myths about mental disorders.
Let’s debunk some of these myths and understand more about mental illness:
Myth: Mental illness cannot affect me
It is good to stay positive in life, but if this positivity makes you ignore your health concerns, it is actually negativity. According to a survey, around 26% of Indians are afraid of being diagnosed with mental illness. But the reality is that India is facing a serious mental health crisis, with about 56 million people suffering from depression and 38 million having anxiety disorders. So, there’s nothing like “I cannot have a mental illness”. A demanding school, job, or personal life can take a toll on anyone, and anything can cause mental illness. Awareness is most important, so if you or your loved ones ever face such a problem, don’t hesitate to visit a mental health professional.
Myth: Children are safe from mental illnesses
Children are not at all immune to mental illnesses. Mental disorders can also develop in them. It has been observed that about 50% of mental health disorders begin before the age of 14, and in 75% of cases it starts by age 24. In most cases, the problems are easily diagnosable but are ignored by parents or caregivers. That is why less than 20% of children get the required treatment. One should not overlook any unusual behaviour in a child or adult as these mental disorders can hamper the growth and development of the sufferer at any stage.
Myth: Mental illness symbolises violent and unpredictable behaviour
The reality is often the opposite, as people with mental disorders are more likely to be victims of violence than being violent themselves. It is only 3-5% of mental disorder patients who can be violent at times. In fact, you may not be able to identify a person with a mental disorder as they are generally productive and active in their lifestyle. So, don’t assume anything on your own; stay positive and supportive of everyone.
Myth: People with mental illnesses cannot hold a job
On the contrary, it has been observed that people with mental disorders are equally productive, show good attendance in office, are well-motivated, and work hard on every given task. Mental disorders in no way hamper your working efficiency or productivity.
Myth: Mental disorders occur due to flaws in character or personal weaknesses
Just like physical disorders, mental disorders also have causes. It can be a biological cause such as injury, imbalanced brain chemistry, genetic problems, etc., or a painful life experience like rape/molestation, loss of a loved one, etc., or a family history of mental disorder. It is certainly not related to any character flaws or weaknesses.
Myth: Mental health problems are life-long
There is a common assumption that mental health problems don’t go away and have no treatment. In reality, mental health problems can be managed by medication or psychotherapy. One just needs to get help, and recovery is more than possible.
Myth: There is no way to prevent mental health problems
Many of us assume that mental health problems are bound to occur, and we cannot control their existence. But many conditions can be prevented by following a healthy diet and lifestyle, not expecting too much from life, living every moment, and being happy and content. These may sound philosophical but are practical ways to lead healthy and disease-free lives.
With nearly 8 lakh people committing suicide every year, understanding mental health disorders and taking care of sufferers is essential for society. Following myths blindly and assuming things will not help anyone. The only way to make a change is by making a note of the facts and being supportive of mentally ill persons.