For some of the millions of people who suffer mental illnesses, the stigma of their condition may prevent them from seeking treatment, US experts say. As part of Mental Health Month in May, a team at the Menninger Clinic in Houston reviewed the top five myths about mental illness:
- Myth #1. People with mental illness are weak. In fact, many famous and powerful people have struggled with depression and other forms of mental illness. Making the decision to seek help for mental illness, and participating in treatment, takes strength in itself.
- Myth #2. Medications cure mental illness. While medicines can help manage symptoms, they're only part of the treatment process, which also includes therapy to help patients better understand the factors that contribute to their mental illness.
- Myth #3. People with mental illness could "snap out of it" if they really wanted to. That's no different than telling someone with the flu, diabetes, hypertension or another physical illness or problem to "snap out of it."
- Myth #4. Children don't have mental illness. In fact, 10 percent of children and adolescents suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that have a major impact on their day-to-day lives, according to a 1999 US Surgeon General report.
- Myth #5. People with mental illness don't get well. The truth is that a combination of medication and psychological treatments and support reduces symptoms and improves quality of life in between 70 percent and 90 percent of people with mental illness, according to the US National Alliance on Mental Illness.