Mental Health: Myths and Stereotypes

Mental Health: Myths and Stereotypes

Most people know what mental health is and how important it is, especially in this time and age, where approximately 280 million people around the world have depression. As things usually go, there are many stereotypes, myths, and stigmas about people with mental health issues. 

One claim is that people believe that people with mental health issues are ‘violent’ or ‘aggressive’. According to centennial mch.org, “This common stereotype is vastly exaggerated by the media. In fact, although some mental disorders, such as anti-social personality disorder and the acute stage of some psychotic disorders, do have aggression and violence as possible symptoms, recent research has shown that using alcohol and drugs is a much more reliable predictor of violent behavior than is mental disorder. It is only when a mentally ill person abuses alcohol and illegal drugs that they are somewhat more likely than a non-mentally ill person to be violent. By any measure, however, the vast majority of violent acts are committed by people without mental disorder.” When it comes to stereotypes about people who struggle with mental health, the movies and TV shows that have characters with mental health issues on-screen may be projecting harmful stereotypes. For instance, in the TV show and book 13 Reasons Why, Hannah, a high school student, is driven to commit suicide because she was bullied at school. While this doesn’t seem like a bad portrayal, in truth it is a multitude of things that lead people to commit suicide, such as instability at home or no financial security, a lack of support from family and friends, and as well as bullying. “[13 Reasons Why] does not talk about mental illness or depression at all. Instead, 13 Reasons Why presents suicide as the only solution for Hannah. The much more common story is that those living with suicidal thoughts learn to survive, with the help and support from people in their lives,” says integrativelifecenter.com.

Furthermore, according to discoverymood.com, “About 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. Between 10 to 15 percent suffer from symptoms at any one time. Only 30 percent of depressed teens are being treated for it.”

According to an anonymous source from Bernardo Yorba Middle School, “I wish people who don’t go through what people like me do knew how taxing it is to have these struggles in life and how it eats away at you, like even the smallest of social situations drain me, and I can barely speak in class as it is.” They also hope that soon, “people have more opportunities than now later on, so we can help people with these struggles even better.”