May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Being aware of what
mental health is, and particularly what mental illness isn’t, can be an
important part of the challenge of overcoming the stigma often associated with it.
The stigma of mental illness can become a roadblock to seeking help and getting
treatment, because of the social stigma felt by those who suffer from the
What is Mental Health Stigma?
The social stigma around mental illness often results from stereotypes.
Friends, co-workers, even family members, and members of the community can convey
a sense of shame on an individual living with mental illness, when they don’t
truly understand the disease. Stigma can prevent people from getting help, as
they may be judged for seeking treatment for their depression, anxiety,
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other emotional distress.
Almost 90% of individuals living with a mental illness feel
the stigma and discrimination that negatively impact their lives, according to
the Mental Health Foundation. People who experience a mental health issue are
the least likely individuals with a long-term health condition to live in good
housing, find meaningful work, have long-term relationships, and be included in
Mental Health Awareness
Education and awareness are critical in overcoming the
stigma associated with mental illness. The month of May has been established as
Mental Health Awareness Month, a movement
that started in 1949. The focus is on raising awareness of the various aspects
of mental health and on reassuring everyone with a mental illness that “you are
The focus is also on raising awareness and providing
education in an effort to dismantle the misconceptions about mental health
issues. The stigma of mental illness can be detrimental for an individual who
is suffering from the disease, as it can add to their anxiety about how others
see them and about how they see themselves.
Knowing the facts and dispelling the myths can help everyone
understand more about the causes, effects, and treatment. The main message for
Mental Health Awareness Month is that individuals who are challenged with a mental
health issue are not alone, that there is support and help available.
Myths and Facts
Many of the stereotypes around mental illness come out of myths that
are commonly circulated. Taking the time to learn more about mental health
concerns and, most importantly, the individuals who are challenged with mental
illness, can help reduce or eliminate the social stigma they experience.
Myth: Mental health issues don’t affect me directly.
Fact: Mental health concerns are common in the US:
- One in 5 adults in the US experience a mental
- One in 25 people live with a serious mental
illness, including major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
- One in 10 young people experience periods of
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of
death in the US, accounting for more than 41,000 lives lost each year.
Myth: Someone with a mental illness will be unpredictable
Fact: Most people with mental health issues are not violent.
Only about 3-5% of violent acts are attributed to individuals who have a
serious mental illness. Those with mental illness are actually 10 times more
likely to be the victims of a violent crime.
Myth: People who have mental illness, even if they
can manage their condition, cannot hold down a meaningful job.
Fact: Most people with mental health issues are
active and productive members of their communities. This includes having good
attendance, good work habits, and being motivated on the job. When an employee
does have a mental health challenge and they receive appropriate treatment, the
result can be:
- Increased productivity
- Decreased disability costs
- Lower medical costs
- Lower absenteeism
Myth: Mental illness is caused by personality
weakness or character flaws. If an individual with a mental health issue would
just snap out of it, they would be fine.
Fact: A person’s mental health problems have nothing
to do with being weak or lazy. There are many factors that can contribute to
mental illness, including:
- Trauma or a history of abuse
- Physical illness or injury
- Brain chemistry
- Genetics or a family history of mental health
The fact is that individuals with mental illness can get
better with appropriate treatment. It is time to break the social stigma and
move forward with understanding and help.
California Faith-Based Addiction Treatment
Celebrate Hope is here for you when you need help with
mental health issues, particularly when they co-occur with addiction. Please contact Celebrate Hope to learn more about our
faith-based dual diagnosis treatment program. Our team helps men and women address
the vicious cycle of mental illness and addiction so they can begin life anew.
We rely on the teachings of Jesus Christ, along with evidence-based therapies
to get individuals on the path of recovery.