People tend to fear what they don’t understand, and may make up stories to fill in these unexplained gaps in their knowledge. You may have heard statements claiming that everyone becomes depressed with age, or that individuals living with a mental illness are incapable of working, but some deeper knowledge will prove that these “facts” are simply untrue. If you are planning to become a mental health or addictions worker, you will learn the truth about many mental health misconceptions, and will likely even change your own outlook.
Take a look at some of the most common mental health myths:
Myth #1: Mental Illnesses are Not True “Illnesses”
Many people tend to think that since mental illnesses are typically “invisible” and cannot be easily detected by a simple test, this means that they are not real illnesses. However, any professional who has completed a mental health worker program knows that this assumption is incorrect and that mental illnesses actually involve changes or imbalances in brain chemistry. Mental illnesses are real health problems that warrant very real and effective treatments. If left untreated, mental illnesses will not simply go away – in fact, they will usually get worse.
Myth #2: Depression is A Normal Part of Aging
Though older adults do have a greater risk of developing depression and other mental disorders, this in no way means that depression is an inevitable part of aging. The main reason that the chances of developing depression are much higher at an older age is because these individuals tend to experience many changes and also many sources of stress.
For example, it is very common for older adults to see their children move away from home, or perhaps even experience the loss of a loved one. Coping with changes such as these can be very difficult for anyone, however, if a person maintains strong relationships, plans for the future and has a positive outlook on life, their chances for becoming depressed will decrease significantly.
Myth #3: Individuals with Mental Illnesses are Incapable of Working
Professionals who have had community support worker training know that it is very common for people with mental illnesses to function in a work environment with no problems. In fact, most workplaces will have individuals who have experienced mental illness in the past or at the present. Most of the time, employees won’t even be aware that another co-worker is suffering from a mental illness.
CSWs understand that oftentimes people who are struggling with a mental disorder will actually benefit from employment. However, the probable reason behind this myth is that there is still a prejudice against hiring people who are living with mental illness. Because of this stigma, employees with mental illnesses can be left feeling alone and stressed, halting their recovery.
Myth #4: Addiction Is a Lifestyle Choice Caused By a Lack of Willpower
Experts with addictions worker training know this to be one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding addiction and mental illness. Addictions actually involve a wide variety of factors including genetics, the environment, and even psychiatric conditions such as depression. Because individuals suffering from addiction may be faced with these predetermined vulnerabilities, overcoming the illness is actually much more difficult than simply breaking a habit. And of course, treating addiction is usually a slow and sometimes painful process.
Do you know of any other mental health myths or misconceptions?