We have come far in recent years in our understanding of mental health issues. There is still far to go though and some misconceptions still abound. So let us take a look at eight of the most common misconceptions about mental health, and address them.

1. People with mental health problems are not strong enough - The stigma surrounding mental health partly exists because there is sometimes the feeling that those who suffer such issues, are simply not being strong enough mentally. You may have heard the phrase ’get over it’ or ‘pull yourself together’. These two expressions are sometimes used when people who are less sympathetic to sufferers, give their view on how sufferers could solve their issue.

The truth is though, that mental health issues can potentially affect any one of us, including the most mentally strongest of us. The death of a loved ones, an unforeseen divorce, or the loss of a job that we expected to keep long-term, can act to greatly impact even the strongest willed individuals. Mental illness, in other words, can affect any one of us. Mental illness thus should certainly never be seen as being related to being weak. This attitude is unhelpful in understanding mental illness.

2. You Suffer Mental Health or You Don’t Suffer
There is often a feeling that we can be categorized into one of two boxes. It is not a binary division between those who suffer from mental illness issues, and those who do not. This though is certainly far from the truth.
It should be seen much more like a sliding scale where anyone can become a sufferer. How many of us are 100% mentally healthy and avoid stress altogether? As these stresses and strains and other factors gather, anyone of us can slide towards or into depression, severe stress and other mental related issues.

3. A Person who suffers mental illness will often be violent and dangerous
There is in fact, little evidence to back up this idea that is often attached to sufferers. Organizations such as MIND UK, who work and specialise in helping those with mental illness, make the point that sufferers very rarely cause violence at a rate that is any different from non-sufferers. There is considered to be no significant direct link between violence and mental health.

4. You cannot recover from mental illness
You can certainly recover from mental illness and the key point to remember though as discussed in point two above, is that any of us can potentially experience mental illness at any time. Certainly the reasons and depth to which we suffer can diversify greatly, but we are all at risk.

5. Mentally ill people cannot do their work or job properly - This is an unfair characterization that is very common and yet quite damaging for mental illness sufferers because it can create unconscious bias in the workplace and for HR decision making.

Many people suffer from mental health issues and are excellent employees, just as productive as their colleagues.

Knowing how to manage and understand colleagues or employees with mental illness can in fact lead to you having a very valuable employee who really appreciates the working environment provided and is extremely loyal to the company.

6. Mental illness is purely biologic
Experts have determined in the past that many individuals who do suffer mental illness do sometimes have a neurological and biologically connected problem. So there is certainly strong evidence that does indeed suggest that mental illness can be biologic to an extent.

Consider also though other situations, such as the unexpected loss of a loved one and how that can drive even the more positive of people, to suddenly struggle mentally. Likewise, consider the young man or woman who returns from service in the military and who then suffers from the effects of what they have seen and suffers post-traumatic stress. Many situations that trigger mental illness issues tend not to be biologic.

There is the argument that those who suffer must have already been biological inclined to suffer mental illness, but there is not clear evidence to support this.

7. Men do not suffer this type of illness
This misconception is perhaps one that has largely dissipated for the most part, in recent years. Much greater awareness of mental health has helped to make it clear that men are just as likely as women to experience mental illness.

8. You are suffering alone.
The lack of visual cues to how others are also suffering can often lead to the feeling of being isolated and alone. Mental illness as we are becoming aware is much more common that one might have appreciated in the past.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Valeria Lo Iacono is the co-founder of Symonds Training and Research, a company that provides training course materials for freelance trainers, including on Equality and diversity training and mental health awareness training. Valeria has a passion for teaching and education and did a PhD in dance as a form of cultural heritage and has taught as several universities.