Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental health conditions, cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.
People with mental health conditions can be just as productive as other employees, especially when they are able to manage their mental health condition well. Employers
often do not know if someone has a mental health condition, but if the condition is known to the employer, they often report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation, good work, and job tenure on par with, or greater than, other employees.
Myth: Mental health issues are a result of personality weakness or character flaws, and people can “snap out of it” if they try hard enough.
Fact: Mental health conditions have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health conditions, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
- Family history of mental health conditions
People with mental health conditions can get better and many seek recovery support.
Myth: There is no hope for people with mental health issues. Once a friend or family member develops a mental health condition, they will never recover.
Fact: Studies show that people with mental health conditions get better and many are on a path to recovery. Recovery refers to the process in which people can live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work:
Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?
for mental health conditions vary depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals do best when they work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.
Myth: I can’t do anything for a person with a mental health issue.
Fact: Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. In 2020, only 20% of adults received any mental health treatment in the past year, which included 10% who received counseling or therapy from a professional. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need by:
- Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
- Helping them access mental health services
- Help them learn self-care and coping techniques
- Learning and sharing facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn’t true
- Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
- Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as “crazy”, instead use person-first language
Myth: It is impossible to prevent a mental health condition.
Fact: Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders focuses on addressing known risk factors, such as exposure to trauma, that can affect the chances that children, youth, and young adults will develop mental health conditions. Promoting a person’s social-emotional well-being leads to:
- Higher overall productivity
- Better educational outcomes
- Lower crime rates
- Stronger economies
- Improved quality of life
- Increased lifespan
- Improved family life
RESOURCES FOR SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS
Despite common misperceptions, having an SMI is not a choice, a weakness, or a character flaw. It is not something that just “passes” or can be “snapped out of” with willpower. The specific causes are unknown, but various factors can increase someone’s risk for mental illness including, family history, brain chemistry, and significant life events such as experiencing a trauma or death of a loved one.
Treatment works. SAMHSA can help you find it.
Effective treatments for serious mental illnesses are available in your area. The earlier that you begin treatment, the greater likelihood of a better outcome. For confidential and anonymous help finding a specialty program near you, visit SAMHSA’s Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator.
If you have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment for a serious mental illness, but moved to a new location, help is available. Use SAMHSA’s FindTreatment.gov to locate a new program.