3 Common Myths about Mental Health Problems

Saturday the 10th of October 2020 is World Mental Health Day. 2020 has been a particularly tough year for everyone’s mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised everyone’s levels of anxiety and lockdown has resulted in huge numbers of people suffering from loneliness, isolation and depression. On top of that, we added in the huge tide of anger triggered by the unlawful murder of George Floyd in America that opened our eyes to the injustice of racial inequality and how widespread the problem is.

All in all, the strain on people’s mental health this year has been tremendous. Not surprisingly, even with a global viral pandemic happening, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has chosen to create a Global Mental Health Campaign movement.

I personally am very aware of how common mental health problems are, having experienced anxiety and depression at various points in my life. I have also worked with clients who have mental health problems and have friends and family touched by mental health problems, whether formally diagnosed or not.

However, I am a firm believer that mental health problems are NOT just all in the mind. I firmly believe that mental health should be re-labelled brain health. At the end of the day, our brain creates our thoughts, mood, emotions and dictates our actions. And our brain is a physical organ in our bodies- as physical, real and vital to our lives as our heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. I wrote a blog about why we need to re-frame mental health and see it for what it what it really is, which is brain health. Click here to read my blog about Mental Health vs Brain Health.

In this blog, I want to dispel 3 common myths about mental health problems and let you know the facts.

MYTH #1 “You can’t recover from mental health problems”

So many people have been told that they can only ‘manage’ mental health problems, especially once they are given a diagnosis of a mental health condition. The common belief is that once you suffer from a mental health problem, you’re stuck with it for life. I went through a period of depression while I was at university when I was in my late teens and early 20’s and that was what I was told too.

However, the doctors were wrong. Luckily, I was a sceptic and always took what the doctors said with a pinch of salt! I managed to completely overcome depression as well as anxiety and panic attacks and I have known other people who have done the same.

While some mental health problems are more severe, life-long conditions, such as schizophrenia, the more common mental health problems can often be completely overcome. That is why it’s important to keep an open mind and be open to the finding out what can help.

MYTH #2 “Medication and talk therapies are the only way to improve mental health conditions”

This myth remains a common and widespread one.  Sadly, it stops people from seeking out other forms of help for their mental health problems. There is a significant amount of research that shows good evidence that other modalities and treatments can improve mental health problems.

Most people will need a combination of approaches and treatments and finding the combination that works best for you is the most important thing you can do. What works for one person may not work for another. What worked for you in your 20s may not work for you in your 40s.

This is due to Bio-Individuality, the concept that every person has a unique biology and physiology and therefore responds differently to different diets, supplements, types of exercise, the amount of sleep they need and their environment.

Here is a list of other approaches that have some research evidence showing that they can improve mental health:

MYTH #3 “It’s easy to spot people with mental health problems”

On the contrary, most people who have mental health problems hide their difficulties. This is because of the stigma attached to having a mental health problem.

Many years ago, I used to volunteer on a mental health telephone helpline and the majority of people who called the helpline  so they could speak anonymously. They were scared that if they disclosed their mental health problems to their relatives, friends or colleagues, they would face repercussions due to the stigma that surrounds mental health problems.

Sadly, this stigma still exists, though there is more public awareness about mental health issues that is trying to reduce the stigma associated with it.

Remember, someone you know personally or at work may have mental health problems that they are keeping quiet about. Be a kind, open and non judgemental person.

There are lots of ways to support people who may have a mental health problem.

One simple thing to try and do is to ask someone “How are you?” then give them the time and encouragement to talk about how they’re actually feeling.  Here is a link to some other ways you can support a friend, colleague or relative.

If you are a busy mum who has a mental health problem that you are hiding from colleagues, family or friends, I totally understand why you would not want to admit this to other people.

You may feel the need to hide your problems so as not to burden or worry your loved ones. Or perhaps you worry how others will perceive you or that you may be judged negatively. You may even worry that you will be seen as an incapable mother to your children if you disclose that you have mental health issues.

However, acknowledging that you have a mental health problem is the first step to healing. Sharing your mental health problems with other people is an important but often scary step to take. Before you do that, consider doing the following:

  • Start by writing down your thoughts in a journal.
  • Carefully consider which close and trusted friend or relative you could talk to.
  • Try calling a mental health telephone helpline for unbiased and judgement free support.
  • You can also find positive and supportive groups on social media. I have a private closed group on Facebook for busy mums who want to improve their brain and body health which you may wish to consider joining.

From there you can decide what other steps you may want to take to help you improve your mental health.

If you’d like holistic and personalised help to improve your mental or – as I prefer to call it - brain health, click here to organise a free, confidential 30 minute health exploratory call.

Here’s to a healthier, happier version of you!

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