Five mental health myths that need to be busted
4 October 2019 at 4:56 pm
Talking about mental health and raising awareness is important. But there are some myths about mental illness floating around that are slowing down progress. To mark Mental Health Week, we look into some of the biggest myths out there.
Myth 1: Mental illness only affects a few people.
Wrong! Research has found that mental illness affects around one in five Australian’s, and around half of the country’s population will report experiencing some sort of mental health issue in their lifetime.
Myth 2: It’s caused by a weak character.
Also wrong. Environmental, biological, social and genetic factors all play into why you might develop a mental illness.
Dr Mark Deady from the Black Dog Institute’s workplace mental health research program says this idea can actually stop people getting help.
“There’s an idea that people can snap out of it if they choose to, which prevents an open discussion and leads to a fostering of that stigma,” he says.
Myth 3: People who do have mental illness can’t hold down a job.
Also not true. But Mark says it is important for a workplace to make sure that if an employee is going through a tough time, they are properly supported and can take a break when they need to.
“Certainly from a management side of things, we know that managers who are seen by their employees to be supportive are associated with employees feeling less distressed,” he says.
Myth 4: People with mental illness will never get better.
For most mental health issues, there are treatments and for commonly experienced illnesses such as depression and anxiety, the recovery rates are really good.
“One of the biggest difficulties we face is that the rates of help-seeking generally can be quite low,” Mark says.
Myth 5: Going to see a therapist means you are unwell.
Going to see a therapist about why you’re feeling stressed or to work through a big life transition is just treating your brain well, in the same way you might exercise and not smoke cigarettes to look after your heart and lungs.
If you’re an employer looking for advice on how to provide the right mental health support for your staff, check out our article: How to support mental health in your workplace.
If you or someone you know is experiencing issues with mental health, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or headspace on 1800 650 890.