Mental Health Awareness

Welcome to my new blog!  As I considered where to start with my first post, I thought, why not start at the very beginning.  So let’s talk about mental health.  What is mental health?  And what is mental illness?

Myth:  Mental illness is a sign of weakness. 

Fact: Let’s debunk this, because some of the strongest people you and I know have some form of mental illness.  It may be silent, it may be invisible, but it is still there.  Anxiety is one of the most common, affecting an estimated 48 million people, or 19% of the population.

Myth:  People never change. 

Fact: People can change their thoughts and their behaviors as they increase their awareness.  We do see some people who continue to make the same mistakes and continue with self-destructive behaviors for many years, but with proper education and support, anyone can change. 

Myth:  People with mental illness are violent. 

Fact: While people who commit acts of violence often (but not always) have a diagnosed mental illness, most who have mental illness are not violent. Violence comes from an inability to control strong emotions, not mental illness.  People who are violent may come from violent homes, but not all who have come from violent homes have a history of violence.

Myth:  Only military personnel who have fought in wars can have PTSD.

Fact: PTSD is a relatively new diagnosis, and it was discovered by Charles Figley who worked with people coming home after the Vietnam war. Later, it was discovered that children and adults display similar symptoms after witnessing traumatic events or experiencing childhood abuse or domestic abuse.

Myth:  Psychiatric medications are harmful. 

Fact: Psych meds are often no more harmful than medications for other medical conditions. They are designed to alleviate symptoms that cause problems for patients and often save their lives by preventing suicide.

Myth:  Talking about suicide makes a person more likely to commit suicide.

Fact: Usually a person who is feeling suicidal feels relieved that the conversation has been opened.  There is such a stigma around mental illness and suicide that the person may be afraid to talk about it, thus leading to isolation and increased depression.

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