Mental Health Myths and Facts

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: February 2022 | Last updated: March 2022

Myth: Mental health conditions are uncommon.

Fact: Nearly 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 children in the United States have some sort of mental illness. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of and is common around the world. While mental health challenges are common, only 1 in 20 US adults experience serious mental illness.1,2

Myth: People with mental health conditions are broken and caused their own problems.

Fact: You are not “broken” if you have mental illness, and you did not cause it. Mental illness is complex. Doctors believe a combination of genes, environment, and life events interact to lead to the development of a mental health condition. A stressful job or grief may be a trigger for some, while trauma might be for others. Not all people who have such events or situations develop mental illness.1,2

Myth: Mental health conditions are not an actual illness.

Fact: Mental illness is real. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health because the 2 are intimately connected. Stigma and negative thoughts about mental health challenges continue to keep this myth going. It is important to know this myth is false.1

Myth: People living with mental illness are dangerous and violent.

Fact: The majority of people living with mental health conditions are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. In fact, people with a diagnosis of severe mental illness are 10 times more likely to be the victims of violence than those without it.3

Myth: People should “just snap out of it.”

Fact: Like other myths, this one is harmful to those living with mental illness. This myth suggests that people living with mental illness are not trying hard enough to get better. The reality is mental health disorders are medical conditions that need medical treatment, such as therapy and prescription medicines. Many people are doing the best they can to manage or improve their mental health, but their symptoms still persist.3

Myth: People living with a mental illness cannot hold a job.

Fact: People living with mental health conditions are productive members of society. Sadly, this myth keeps many of those living with mental illness away from the job market. The impact of unemployment or underemployment on society is huge. Anyone living with mental illness should be encouraged to enter or re-enter the workforce. Employers may be required by law to provide reasonable accommodations. People with mental health challenges can be just as successful as those who do not.3,4

Myth: Counseling is a waste of time.

Fact: Therapy is a valuable treatment to improve mental health and quality of life. Research shows that counseling improves daily function and reduces missed work days and drug costs. It is also cost-effective and can decrease the need for doctor visits and hospitalization. The benefit of therapy can last for years. There are different forms of therapy. People who want to consider counseling as a treatment option should talk to their doctor or mental health provider.3,5

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