Myths reinforce Stigma Despite an overwhelming amount of research to the contrary, there are several enduring myths attached to mental health disorders and the people who have them:
Myth – Character Flaw
Many people think that mental health disability is a choice or that people can “decide” to be happy when they are depressed by replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts or, just “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”
Fact – Mental illness and addictions are medical illnesses. They can be diagnosed and treated with medication, talk therapy or in combination. The American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) considers mental and substance disabilities as “legitimate” as physical disabilities.
Myth – Can’t handle stress
Fact – All jobs are stressful to some extent for everyone.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is just one tool that can be used to help an employee deal with stress on the job. The stress of unemployment is far worse than the stress of employment.
Myth – Are unreliable
Fact – Employers who report hiring people who have had their mental health restored through treatment say they are above average in attendance and punctuality and are as motivated if not more as other employees.
Myth – Recovery is not possible
Fact – Long-term studies prove that the majority of people with mental health disorders who seek and maintain treatment show genuine improvement over time and lead stable productive lives.
Myth – They are violent
News reports, movies or entertainment television often portrays or infers that people with mental health disabilities are violent. Or speculate that people who commit violent acts MUST have mental health disorders.
Fact – A scholarly review of research done by Cornell University indicates that “none of the data give any support to the sensationalized caricature of the mentally disordered served up in the media.”