Top 10 Misconceptions About Mental Illness

A list of false impressions that we have about mental disorders and people who suffer them.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental ailments affect more than a quarter of the adult population of the United States and about 6 percent are classified as serious mental disorders. Here are the top ten myths that are prevalent about mental illness.


  1. Only “weak” people suffer from mental problems

    The biggest misconception about mental illness is that it only affects people who are somehow of weak or feeble spirit and have no aim in life. The truth is that anyone can be affected by it, even people who have had a success, because the disorder is mainly caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

  2. People with mental disorders are lazy

    In actuality, it’s the mental illnesses themselves that render a person incapable of functioning effectively. Half the people who leave their jobs because of a disability in fact suffer from a psychosomatic problem.

  3. Only old people suffer from mental sickness like depression

    The majority of people who have depression or other mental issues are in the age group 18-29 according to the NIMH. In fact, folks in age group 60+ have the lowest occurrence of serious mental disorders. (NIMH)

  4. People can get better by taking their medication

    Meds do help in alleviating the illness, but it’s a long process (can take several years), and different meds work for different people, hence it’s difficult to determine the right treatment for each individual.

  5. People with mental issues can “get rid of” it if they want to

    Willpower is not enough to treat a psychiatric disorder. It requires professional help and years of therapy to resume a normal life. Just like any other sickness, mental disorders affect the physiology of the body and the brain.

  6. Severe mental disorders are incurable

    Nothing could be further from the truth. With the right kind of treatment, care and support, people can improve their condition and once again become productive members of society. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 70-90 percent of people suffering from depression can recover and regain the lives they once had.

  7. People themselves are responsible for their mental issues

    As I stated earlier, mental illness can affect anyone, whether it be a person living in poverty or someone who has all the luxuries of life. It can also be genetic and passed on from ancestors. No one chooses to be depressed or mentally ill.

  8. People with some mental issues like schizophrenia are violent

    People suffering from a psychosomatic or psychological disorder are no more violent then any other person in society. They are more likely to harm themselves then anyone else.

  9. Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT is  an uncivilized way to treat people

    ECT is less painful then a dentist’s visit. People are under general anaesthesia and cannot feel the “shocks” being applied to brain. It has also improved the lives of many who have suffered from mental problems.

  10. With time, it will go away by itself

    The longer mental illnesses are left untreated, the worse it’s going to get. If your loved ones show signs of mental illness, it is crucial that you seek help for them.

It is very important that we understand the implications of mental issues in our society and be more compassionate towards those who might have had a traumatic experience and have gone into depression or suffer from any other mental illness. We can help people get better if we are more understanding, and can prevent suicides if we listen and provide empathy to them.

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