One of the major issues that affect tackling the issue of mental health is the lack of sufficient knowledge. People struggle to have conversations about mental health either because they do not know how to go about it or are afraid to. Additionally, stigma and discrimination are major obstacles to having a productive dialogue about mental health. However, with the rising cases of mental illnesses, it is becoming increasingly important for us to have open conversations about it. It is the only way we can start to end the stigma associated with it so people can get the help they need. We can start by debunking some of the myths.
Mental Illness does not affect children
It is often thought that children cannot have mental illnesses. This is because mental health is sometimes associated with old age which is not the case. Mental Illness can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological and social factors. Mental Illnesses have no bias and can affect people of all ages. Sadly, only 20% of children and adolescents get diagnosed with mental illness. This is because parents may often shrug off signs and symptoms of some mental illnesses by thinking the children are going through a phase in their lives. Parents should ensure that they are keen on their children’s wellbeing both physically and mentally.
Mental Illnesses are a sign of weakness
Some people may associate some mental illnesses such as depression with weakness. They assume that patients that fall into depression were not strong enough to deal with the situation they were going through. However, people need to view mental illness like physical illnesses. When someone gets malaria or gets a cold, it does not show weakness. It is simply an illness like any other. Mental Illnesses should be treated the same way. Actually, many people gain strength from their mental illnesses.
Physical Illness is worse than Mental Illness
Just because you can physically see the effects of the flu and you cannot see a mental illness, it does not mean that it is any less painful or damaging. An illness is an illness. It does not matter where it is affecting you. What matters is the how much the illness affects the patient health. You cannot perform your level best if you are not healthy both physically and mentally. Mental illnesses require just as much treatment and support like physical illnesses.
People with mental illnesses cannot handle stressful situations.
Patients with mental illnesses have jobs, go to school and live like normal people. You can work or live in close proximity to a patient and never know of their condition. They live normal lives just like everyone else and the illness does not make them any less functional. With proper knowledge of their illness, treatment, and support mentally ill patients can handle whatever life throws their way. They can achieve their goals and contribute to society.
Prevention does not work
Prevention of mental illnesses does not take the form of preventing physical illnesses. It does not include administering vaccines. Instead, it focuses on handling and addressing known risk factors which may cause one to develop mental illnesses. Exposure to trauma is one of these risk factors. That is why people who experience trauma are advised to seek the services of a counsellor to help them deal with the ordeal instead of bottling up their emotions. Additionally, parents are asked to keep an eye on their children if they have the family history of mental illness.