It seems there’s more understanding today for individuals having psychological issues. However, that still doesn’t stop some common misconceptions about mental illness from coming up once in a while. If we work on debunking them, we may find more compassion for different people’s issues. Let’s talk about some common myths and, more importantly, the facts.
Misconceptions About Mental Illness Still Exist, and Some People Are Hard to Convince
Despite living in the 21st century and expecting more open-mindedness and tolerance, it seems that most people still believe in some myths about mental illnesses and have mental health misconceptions. It’s common to be met with denial, even from those close to you, when you’re experiencing a problem or difficulties.It’s not right, but it is unfortunately common.
Sometimes, our family members might be the last ones to accept we’re having psychological issues. That’s mainly because if your family loves you, they don’t want to see you hurt, but also because they may have various misconceptions about mental health. If people are open to listening to you, they may still misunderstand and falsely label your disorder as selfishness or greed.
Before you believe anyone’s opinion of you, check if you’re also skeptical about psychological illnesses. Accepting that you’re suffering from depression, for example, is never easy, but acknowledging that you’re not less worthy because of it will take you much further than telling yourself that shoving things under the rug is going to take care of your problems.
Discuss your own beliefs around psychological illnesses with a therapist and work on accepting that yours doesn't define you
One of the Most Common Misconceptions About Mental Illness Is That You’re Choosing to Have It
When you’re faced with opinions on disorders and psychological issues, it’s normal to occasionally ask yourself the question – is mental illness a myth? Illnesses are so much more than a myth. They aren’t just reality, but a burden, too. Close to 20% of African Americans battling a psychological disorder aren’t treated properly or don’t have a steady source of healthcare. The statistics on psychological health in African Americans say a lot about how psychological issues are treated.
When a person with a disorder opens up about their issues, they’re typically met with answers such as – “just relax,” “take a chill pill,” and for women especially, the question “is it that time of the month again?”. It’s also not surprising for some to encounter violent responses to their problems, either.
The initial thought of someone living with depression after hearing a reaction to their complaint is often to push their feelings under the rug. Self-care tips from magazines can do little in that situation – a person dealing with problems should find ways to cope that aren’t self-destructive or generally harmful. Let’s all raise our hands if we heard more than once that the best cure for depression is exercise, or that “it’s all in our head.”
A Harmful Way to Deal With Mental Health Issues – Comparing Your Misery to the Person Opening Up to You
An immensely harmful response to someone’s emotions is comparison. This is something African American women and women of color are met with daily. While it’s alright to sympathize with someone going through a hard time, it’s not OK to say – “wait till you hear how awful it is for me”. Invalidating a person’s feelings and trying to one-up them at the same time is toxic and unhelpful.
As an African American woman or a woman of color, you will feel much better with the help of a women of color therapist who will truly understand you. When battling a problem, your first step should be choosing a therapist of color and getting over the obstacle of opening up to someone. Professional help guarantees you won’t feel invalidated or compared to someone else’s misery.
Comparing problems is never a good response to someone's issues, and it certainly doesn't help with battling depression.
Another of the Biggest Myths About Mental Health – People With Psychological Problems are Needy and High-Maintenance
Sometimes, a person dealing with anxiety can only cope if they ask their friends or partners for reassurance. We’re not talking about things like asking “Does this dress look good on me?”, but more along the lines of “am I annoying / do you still like me?” – the things that display deeply rooted confidence issues.
Anyone not familiar with symptoms of anxiety could feel this is needy or high-maintenance behavior. Such a reaction can push an anxious woman to try to hush herself and stop asking for reassurance to stop looking needy. But that will not solve the problem – it will cause the anxiety to bubble up and eventually maybe even prevent her from doing basic daily things.
If you’re a woman of color with depression and anxious thoughts, seek out counseling for women. Treatment will help you find self-care ideas and coping mechanisms that won’t require asking forreassurance or help from someone who doesn’t understand you.
You can always open up to a friend again, but ensure to let them know you’re living with a psychological disorder that sometimes makes life difficult. However, it’s not a duty to disclose that, and you should only do it if you feel comfortable with the person you’re talking to.
A woman with anxiety can come across as high-maintenance or needy to someone unfamiliar with psychological disorders
One of the Misconceptions of Mental Illness in Society Is That Children Are Resistant to Them
The general myths and facts about mental illness are mostly related to someone not feeling appreciative of the things they have. For example, when a child opens up to a parent about being sad or depressed, the parents can react by saying: “what do you have to be sad about? You have a house, a bed to sleep in, and food to eat”.
A child that gets that sort of response will start to believe something is seriously wrong with them. This is why one of the most dangerous myths about mental illness is related to children’s psychological problems. Treatment is frequently given to children and should be destigmatized as shameful.
Let’s Break the Myth That We Can’t Acknowledge Illness in Children and Young People
A child doesn’t have the capacity to learn how to deal with stress on their own; the things we don’t learn as kids are things we may never understand as adults. Everyone is different, of course, and many truths become known to us as we grow older, but psychological disorders tend to stem from childhood.
If a child doesn’t know how to calm down, they’re at risk of having suppressed rage. That leads to anger disorder and aggressive behavior later on. Kids are also often under the impact of social media. Sometimes even adults don’t understand how harmful this can be on their psyche; it could cause anxiety, depression, and very often an eating disorder in individuals of all ages.
Parents have to understand that sending a child to treatment doesn’t label them as ‘broken’ or ‘crazy’. If we break the myth that kids are immune to psychological disorders, there may be more emotionally mature individuals in the future.
The most harmful myth of all is that children are immune to psychological health issues
Another Harmful Myth About Mental Illness Is that the Person Living With It Cannot Handle Work or Obligations
This misconception is exceptionally harmful to anyone, but when it’s directed at people of colors, another dimension is given to it. Words like “lazy,” “stupid,” and “undeserving” are just some of the insults people of color living with psychological health issues hear when they’re forced to deal with racism paired with the misunderstanding of their condition.
Anyone living with psychological issues can have a hard time handling work stress; that’s no surprise, considering that people tend to misunderstand disorders. Even those affected can feel undeserving or lazy, believing the words of others before checking if there’s anything else happening under the surface. Find your counselor for women of color and start by acknowledging that when things are off, you’re not the one to blame.
Those living with depression can feel inadequate instead of seeking out treatment
Therapy Is the Best Form of Support for Those Living With Psychological Health Problems
Therapy for women, particularly therapy for women of color, is one of the most beneficial ways to deal with depression and other disorders. The ongoing health crisis in women of color is a fact we have to challenge more and more, and we’ll do it best by supporting each other.
That means that, if everyone with an issue took that first step and booked their first therapy appointment, many individuals would have better knowledge of their psychological hygiene.
As you can see, mental illness misconceptions are everywhere, but they affect minorities and marginalized groups more than anyone. Being transparent with your woman of color therapist and trusting that you finally have a safe space to vent and be yourself will be proof enough that therapy works. Give yourself a chance to heal.
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