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Articles of Interest

Myths and Misconceptions About Mental Illness

One-in-five people live with mental illness. Like other diseases, mental illness is no one’s fault. It has many causes such as genetics and other biological, environmental, and social/cultural factors. Like other diseases, mental illness is treatable, enabling individuals to live productive, meaningful lives; however, many individuals are ashamed to seek help because of misconceptions. Know the facts that surround this brain disorder and help eliminate the stigma.

Myth #1: People living with mental illness are violent.
FACT: The majority of people living with mental illness are no more violent than anyone else. People living with mental illness are actually more likely to be the victims of crimes.

Myth #2: Mental illness is a sign of weakness.
FACT: Mental illness is not caused by personal weakness, nor can it be cured by positive thinking or willpower. Proper treatment is needed.

Myth #3: People with a mental illness will never get better.
FACT: For some, mental illness may be a lifelong condition, like diabetes. But, as with diabetes, proper treatment enables many people to lead productive, fulfilling lives.

Myth #4: Mental illness can’t affect me.
FACT: Mental illness can affect anyone. While some illnesses have a genetic risk, mental illness affects people of all ages, races, and income levels, whether or not there is a family history.

Myth #5: I can’t do anything to help someone with a mental health problem.
FACT: Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. More than half of people with mental illness do not receive help. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment they need.

Myth #6: If I ask a friend or family member if they are thinking about suicide, I may cause them to hurt themselves.
FACT: Asking someone does not increase the risk of suicide; it actually saves lives.

Myth #7: During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not possible to get mental health treatment.
FACT: Treatment never ceased during COVID. 24/7 crisis support and other treatment is accessible.  Visit PennFoundation.org to learn more about local resources and support.