May 3, 2022 | Alberta
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is an important time to recognize that our health consists of more than just our bodies.
Good mental health is important to our daily lives. It plays an important role in our productivity, our interpersonal relationships, and even in our sleep. In fact, it is a key part of maintaining our physical health as well. Not everyone reacts to difficult circumstances in the same way; however, everyone suffers from mental health issues from time to time. There can be many causes, including stress, grief, or loneliness.
Like other ailments, mental health issues can get worse if they are not treated. Treatment can be a challenge. Many myths around mental health persist, and they can make getting help difficult and treatment hard to access. Stigmas around mental health issues have persisted long after they should have disappeared.
Here are five facts about mental health to dispel some of the most common myths.
Myth: People with Mental Health Issues Cannot Hold Down a Job
Everyone is different, and every person dealing with mental health issues lives with different challenges.
Some of the more common issues people encounter may include a lack of confidence, difficulties with concentration, or trouble making decisions. These may lead to more severe performance issues or generate concern that they may not be able to keep working.
Other issues in the workplace might include relationships with colleagues, which could cause them to withdraw or appear less productive, and in severe cases may even begin to take more time off than usual.
The truth is that many people are able to hold down their job while living with mental health issues and have few problems when it comes to long-term employment. When employees seek treatment they are usually able to get back to work quickly, build back confidence, and reach their full potential.
Myth: People with Mental Health Issues are Violent and Unpredictable
A common theme around mental health in popular media is that people with mental issues are often portrayed as unstable, anti-social, or even violent. The reality is much different.
Many people live with mental health issues, and the majority are productive and active members of society. Some may become anti-social and choose to isolate themselves, but this does not mean that they will become unstable or violent.
Incidents of violent behaviour among people living with mental health issues are rare. In fact, studies have shown that they are no more likely to engage in violent behaviour than the rest of the population.
The perception that people living with mental health issues are violent perpetuates a stigma that can further affect their interpersonal relationships. It could also make them less likely to disclose their issues or seek the appropriate assistance they may need.
Myth: Just Snap Out of it
This is another long-held misconception about people living with mental health issues.
Because mental health issues are not as obvious as physical injuries, people have long assumed that the same kind of healing does not apply, or that treatment is not necessary. This suggests that issues like depression are something that people can control, which is inaccurate.
Some people may have adequate ability to cope and live with minor bouts with depression, but it largely depends on the root cause. Depression, stress, and anxiety can be caused by many different factors. Grief is something we all live with from time to time in our lives. Often it just takes time to heal, but talking to someone or entering into therapy can help people work through the pain of loss.
Others who are living with past trauma may require more care and attention, and it may take them longer to recover, or even open up about the cause. Others whose mental health issues are caused by chemical imbalance may need to take medication to help them better cope with the symptoms of their mental health.
The truth is that the majority of people living with mental health issues cannot just snap out of it, and the idea that they can makes matters worse.
Myth: Prevention does not Work
Preventing mental health issues may be challenging, but it is possible.
The most important thing in preventing mental health issues is getting to the root of common causes.
This can include societal changes that allow for better access to education, better living situations, and better access to nutrition. It can also include initiatives on the personal level, like feeling free to talk about what is going on in your life, discussing your daily challenges, and working to alleviate everyday stress.
It is important to remove the stigma around mental health in the workplace, at home, and in the community. By bettering community engagement, creating environments that support mental health, and allowing people to adopt healthy lifestyles, mental health issues can be prevented before they begin.
Some of the biggest issues around mental health are the misconceptions and incorrect ideas that people have about those living with mental health issues.
It is important that every person feels able to reach out when they need to without feeling like they have to work through issues all on their own.
With proper education surrounding mental health and access to adequate treatment, the reduction of mental health issues can have a profound impact on society.
If you or someone you know is living with mental health issues, please do not hesitate to reach out. There are many resources available through school, work, and community initiatives.