This mental health awareness week lets burst some myths about mental illnesses and know the real facts-
- One out of four person, globally, experience mental illness at some point in their lives.
- Mental illness is not a flaw in character or personality, it is as much biological in origin as diabetes, rheumatoid, hypertension etc.
- Mental illness can occur in anyone, irrespective of their gender, caste, religion, nationality, socio-economic status or socio-cultural background or ethnicity.
- Like, any other disorder, some people are more vulnerable to develop mental illness, as compared to others.
- Person with mental illness do not lose the capacity to decide for themselves all the time.
- Similar to any other disorder, mental illnesses vary in their intensity of presentation and thus, require management accordingly.
- Mental illness is not a curse. It is not caused by being possessed by the spirits.
- As for heart attack, ‘heart’ is the body organ, for mental disorders, organ involved is ‘brain’.
- Mental illnesses are not ‘fictional’ or ‘functional’ in nature. Advances in brain imaging has shown changes in brain physiology, chemistry in mental disorders.
- As, one cannot just will fever to go away, one cannot will mental illness away.
- Genetic vulnerability is invariably the single most common factor in increasing the vulnerability to develop mental illness.
- Talking therapy might be helpful in some mental illnesses, and medications may be required to manage others.
- Medications for mental illnesses are not sleeping drugs, they need not be required to be taken for life in all cases, and are not always addictive in nature.
- Mentally ill person has human rights similar to any other person.
- Mental disorders are treatable in many cases and manageable in some, depending on the cause and severity of the illness.
- There is no shame in suffering from mental illness or having someone in family with mental illness.
- It is a myth that physical and mental disorders are separate. Brain is very much part of body and thus,mental disorders aka psychiatric disorders, which originate from brain, effect body as much as any other disorder.
- Healthy lifestyle, resilience, coping, problem solving, yoga, meditation, strengthening the brain through exercise are all good and should be inculcated for positive mental health. But, again if a person is having a heart attack we don’t talk about lifestyle then, we treat it. Mental illness require treatment too, lifestyle modification and the whole list of strategies to promote mental health strategies are an add on.
Feel free to add to this list of myths and facts regarding mental illnesses.