Myths About Mental Illness


MYTH: People with psychological disabilities are violent. mythorfact

FACT: The fact is that we hear about mental illness whenever it is connected to violence. If a person is violent and has never had a mental illness, we don’t consider it. However, if a person is violent who has had a history of mental illness, the media is sure to point this out to all of us. Actually, there is a larger proportion of people without mental illness who are violent than the proportion of those with mental illness who are violent.

MYTH: People with mental illness cannot function in our society.

FACT: People with mental illness are functioning very well in society. With the treatments available today, people are able to be productive members of society. Most of the time, we do not even know who does and does not have a diagnosis of mental illness.

MYTH: People with mental illness will act “crazy”, “psycho”, Nuts” etc.

FACT: These are terms that society has used to describe behaviors that we cannot understand. They are pejorative, derogatory terms that are comparable to terms from the past that were used to describe other disabilities such as “retard”, “deaf and dumb”, Mongoloid” etc. They are negative, nondescriptive words which should not be used.

MYTH: If a person does not look mentally ill, he or she must be faking.

FACT: There is no special “look” to mental illness. The most difficult thing about mental illness is that it is an invisible disability. Therefore, people question its existence. There are many things in life that we cannot see which we know exist. Some of these include air, thoughts, feelings etc. Invisible disabilities still have the most stigmas in our society.

MYTH: Those medications make people worse.

FACT: The first medication which is prescribed for a mental illness may not be the best one. Sometimes people have to try a couple of different medications to find the best one for them. However, if they continue to be honest with their Doctors and Counselors, there is a good probability that the right treatment will be found. Those who have the most trouble are those who get anxious and stop seeing the professionals instead of communicating clearly with them about the effects of the medications.

MYTH: Only people with mental illness go to counseling.

FACT: Most of the people we see in the Counseling and Personal Development Center are dealing with everyday life situations. Counselors are trained to help people deal with situations that create difficulty in their lives. These situations can range from death to roommate concerns to difficulty in classes. In fact, the majority of the people we see are interested in choosing a major.

MYTH: People with mental illness have lost touch with reality.

FACT: Loosing touch with reality only happens in a small percentage of mental illnesses. It is relatively rare, and can be treated fairly easily with today’s medications.

For further information contact the Counseling and Personal Development Center, 338 University Center, or call 423-425-4438. Walk in hours are from 9-12 and 1-3 during weekdays.