We are working with major mental health charities around the national campaign to end mental health discrimination. This campaign is called Time to Change and aims to help people understand the true face of mental health. Check out the myths below and see how clued up about mental health you are.
Myth: Mental health problems are very rare.
Fact: Mental health problems affect one in four people. Often people don’t talk about their problems for fear of being mocked or teased.
Myth: Mental health does not affect young children. Young children are generally happy - if they have problems it's just part of growing up.
Fact: Up to one in five children in the UK have a recognised mental health problem, and many do not receive the treatment they need. Left untreated, these problems can get worse - anyone talking about suicide should be taken very seriously.
Myth: Children are too young to get depressed, it must be something else.
Fact: Depression affects one in every 50 children under 12 years old, and one in every 20 teenagers. That’s over 800,000 children in the UK alone.
Myth: It is a normal part of ageing for old people to be lethargic and to lose interest in activities they used to enjoy. It’s also normal for them to have problems sleeping.
Fact: These are all signs of depression. Depression in the elderly often goes undiagnosed and untreated. The elderly and their families should look out for signs of depression and go to the GP if they are concerned.
Myth: Addicts are weak people. They aren’t sick and money shouldn’t be wasted on helping them get ‘well’.
Fact: Over half of all alcoholics and drug addicts have a mental health problem. The most common are depression and anxiety disorders. Drugs and alcohol can be used as a way of dealing with emotional problems - treating the underlying problem can help with the addiction.
Myth: Homeless people with a mental illness have no chance of recovery.
Fact: Homeless people can be helped by being given access to treatment, support for housing and other services. This can significantly decrease homelessness.
Myth: Troubled youth just need more discipline.
Fact: A report by the Prison Reform Trust estimates that nine out of ten people in prison have mental health problems. Over 90% of imprisoned young offenders have at least one, or a combination of, the following: personality disorder, psychosis, neurotic disorder or problems with substance misuse. In addition, over 30% will have spent time in the care system. Nearly 30% of young women in prison report that they have been sexually abused. These troubled young people have a complicated range of needs and require a combination of services to help with their problems. Increasing discipline is not likely to help.
Myth: You are unlikely to be depressed. You are probably just going through a phase. If you don’t do anything you will probably start to feel better naturally.
Fact: Depression is quite a common condition - about 15% of people will have a bout of severe depression at some point in their lives. However, the exact number of people with depression is hard to estimate because many people do not get help, or are not formally diagnosed. Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men, although men are far more likely to commit suicide. This may be because men are more reluctant to seek help for depression. Suffering in silence is not the answer - psychotherapy and/or medication have been shown to help.
Myth: Doctors spend most of their time treating physical health as this is the most common kind of illness and the most important.
Fact: Depression is the most common reason for visiting a GP. Mental health is just as important as physical health. The two are inter-connected, not separate. In fact, mental ill health can cause physical symptoms.
Myth: Mental illness is a personal problem not a business concern.
Fact: Depression is a leading cause of disability in the UK and accounts for a great deal of sickness absence.
Myth: Mental health problems are not real illnesses in the same way that physical illnesses are.
Fact: Brain disorders have been shown to have a genetic and biological cause, in exactly the same way that diabetes and cancer have. There is also evidence that shows they can be treated effectively, through the use of psychological therapies and/or medication for example.
Myth: Schizophrenics are often dangerous and violent. It is common for schizophrenics to kill people.
Fact: Schizophrenics are actually more likely to harm themselves than they are to harm other people. The incidence of violence in schizophrenics is not much higher than in the general population.
Myth: Depressed people are weak. They could snap themselves out of their bad mood if they just concentrated on being positive.
Fact: We know now that depression has nothing to do with being weak. Depression comes from changes in the brain that result in very real symptoms. Psychotherapy and/or medication has been shown to help.