#Askingforafriend: Myths of mental health wellness, Part 1
By Krista Hoffer
GCU Office of Student Care
Let’s explore some common myths related to mental health and offer alternative ways to be educated about it.
DID YOU KNOW?
Sanism describes an irrational prejudice targeting people affected by or with mental illness. Like racism and sexism, it oppresses or discriminates against others.
As with other forms of prejudice, it is up to us to become educated and well-versed in changing the current stigma.
Let’s start by debunking some currently held beliefs about mental health to further educate ourselves and others:
Myth: Having a mental illness or mental health diagnosis means you are “crazy.”
FACT: Simply put, that is not true. Having a mental illness diagnosis does not make you crazy. It means you fall under the criteria of being a human being who is vulnerable and influenced by your environment, experiences and genetics. It means you have a diagnosis that is need of proper care, understanding and patience – just like any other illness.
Myth: Mental illness is caused by personal weakness.
FACT: Just like any major illness, mental illness is not the fault of the person who has a mental health condition. It is caused by a relationship between genetic and environmental factors, not a result of personal weakness. A stressful work or home life can make you more susceptible, as do traumatic life events. Other possible factors could be related to neuropathways or chemical makeup in the brain.
Myth: You’re not depressed, you’re just sad.
FACT: Depression is not something where you just can deny its existence or will it away. Those who have never experienced depression in significant ways may hold a belief that all an individual needs to do is shake it off and cheer up. Depression is a medical diagnosis that affects the biological functioning of our minds and bodies. However, proper treatments – such as therapy, proper medication and psychoeducation – can help heal the symptoms of depression.
Myth: People diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder have a lot of different mood swings.
FACT: Bipolar disorder does not cause mood swings. Individuals diagnosed with mood swings experience “cycles” that last for a few weeks to a few months. Bipolar Disorder is when an individual experience high-highs and low-lows. “Highs” refer to experiences such as high energy, insomnia, grandiose thoughts and rampant thoughts. “Lows” can be experienced in feeling fatigued, sluggish, sad and suicidal and having poor self-esteem/hygiene and trouble concentrating. These cycles take turns and vary in lengths of time – but are not flipped like a switch back and forth, such as a mood swing.
I hope you have found these resources helpful. I will debunk more in Part 2 next week!