While talking about mental illness has become less taboo in the recent past, there is still so much about these diseases that aren’t understood by the average person. Because of this, you yourself might have an incorrect image in your head of what living with a mental illness means for someone within your own community. So to help you learn more about mental health and how you should be viewing it and those who suffer from it, here are three things that are commonly misunderstood about mental illness.
What Mental Illness Looks Like
When many people think about what someone with a mental illness looks like, they envision someone who physically looks like they can’t keep themselves together. This person likely can’t hold down a job or take care of themselves in a traditionally appropriate way. You might even picture someone who’s violent or completely unpredictable. However, according to MentalHealth.gov, most people with some type of mental illness are not violent and are actually more likely to have violent crimes committed against them. Additionally, people who suffer from a mental illness oftentimes can and do maintain full-time employment and take care of themselves just as anyone else would. Because of this, there’s almost no way you can tell that someone may have a mental illness by just looking at him or her.
The Mental Health Continuum
Some people may think that someone either has a mental illness or they don’t. However, it’s been proven that mental health actually moves over something like a continuum, meaning that it can come in varying degrees for even the same person at different times in their life. According to Amy Morin, a contributor to Psychology Today, a mental health issue can be something that you deal with for just a short period of time, like a knee injury, or something that you have chronically, like high cholesterol.
Mental Illness As A Weakness
In the past, people with mental illnesses were sometimes seen as those who simply couldn’t cope with the stresses of life. However, it’s now known that those with mental illness typically don’t have these issues due to a weakness of their own making. According to Nathan Falde, a contributor to PsychCentral.com, a mental health issue isn’t something that people just make up to excuse their shortcomings. It’s a real, physical challenge that they can’t help but have happen to them.
Luckily for many people, the issues surrounding mental health have been given much more exposure and explanation in recent years. But if you’re still not understanding what a mental illness is or isn’t, consider using the information mentioned above to help you see these diseases for what they really are.