There are lots of myths around about mental health problems. Most exist because people have a hard time understanding mental illness and can often be scared or afraid by it. Here we explore some of the big myths you may have heard.

“People with mental illness are just weak minded and stupid.”

Not true. Kim Basinger, Frank Bruno, Paula Abdul, Stephen Fry, Paul Merton and many other successful and intelligent people have all experienced mental health problems.

“People with mental health problems are weird and not like you and me.”

Well, one in six people are experiencing a mental health problem right now – that’s a lot of weird people! In fact, one quarter of the world’s population will be touched by mental illness at some point in their life. If it were you, how would you like to be treated?

“Mental health patients are all violent and you should steer clear.”

Another myth that’s been fuelled by misleading and sensationalist media reporting that is simply untrue. The sad truth is that people with mental health problems are more likely to be the victims of violence and aggression.

“You never recover from mental health problems.”

Not true. While some people may experience problems over a long period, a lot of people may experience a single episode of illness and others learn to manage their condition. People recover from mental health problems every day.

“People who self harm are attention seekers”

Because it can be hard to understand, healthcare professionals, friends and relatives sometimes think people who self-harm are manipulative or are seeking attention. However self-harm is often the only way some people can express their pain, even though this can be very upsetting for those around them.

“You only get a mental health problem if someone else in your family has one”

Not true – most people with a mental illness do not have family members with the illness. For some mental health problems there does not seem to be a link at all. You may have a higher chance of developing certain mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar if members of your family have it, but even then, it is only one of several factors.

“If you ask for help you’ll get locked up if they think you’re crazy”

Not true – no one is going to lock you up for asking for help. Often it can be the first step to sorting out any problems in your life and may stop you developing a mental illness. If you do think you have a mental health problem there are lots of different treatments that you can get from your GP. If you are very unwell you may have to be treated in hospital, but this is only if doctors think you may be a danger to yourself or others and doesn’t happen very often.

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