Mental health struggles have existed as far back as history records. For something that has existed as long as humanity, misconceptions and negative beliefs still maintain a strong hold even in today’s modern times. Often I find that negative internal beliefs exist in my clients and are one of the first things we have to challenge and break down as we work towards goals.
On World Mental Health Day, I wanted to examine two of the common false beliefs individuals have about mental illness, both in themselves and in others. By challenging these beliefs and embracing a true and holistic perspective, we can increase the likelihood of improvement on both an individual and global level.
Mental Illness is Because Of Laziness
This is one of the most common ones, especially in Western society where we often pride ourselves on our “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. Just like physical illness can’t be healed through willpower alone, neither can illness of the mind. Genetics, biology, and environment all have significant impacts on mental well-being, leaving some to struggle with an illness in one or another their whole life, through no fault of their own. Yes, there is something to be said for the responsibility and resilience to take responsibility for the treatment of the condition, but for many, that’s easier said than done.
Mental illness can impact financial well-being, relationship status, and overall quality of life. What I find though is that this negative cyclical pattern leads to self-judgment and hopelessness that things will never improve because of some character defect on the part of the individual with the illness. One thing compounds on the other until it feels impossible to get out.
One of the ways we get out of this seemingly bottomless pit is by acknowledging the truth of where the illness comes from and what is within and without one’s responsibility. After that, we are then able to devise a plan and a way out that is realistic, yet significant. It may feel like a slow start, but a slow start forward is better than continued heaviness down the dark path of hopelessness.
Mental Illness is Untreatable
Here, I want to differentiate between “untreatable” and “uncurable.” All illnesses can be treated in some form or another. Accommodations and treatment will vary from diagnosis to diagnosis and person to person. The harsh truth of it is, some illnesses will be things the individual struggles with their entire life in some capacity or another. The acceptance of this reality is an important part of treatment for some as it then allows them to move forward into the stage of “What do we then do about it?”
Treatment however is possible! Treatment can look like lifestyle accommodations, routine mental health care, medications, holistic treatments, continued evaluations, and many other things. This is where having informed, trained, and licensed mental health providers are vital to assist the individual in identifying and providing the best course of action possible based on the circumstances given.
Did you notice one or all of these beliefs in your perspective of mental illness? You’re not alone! It is only by identifying and challenging them with true and healthy beliefs that we can hope to improve the overall perspective of mental illness in our society and change the tide of belief for ourselves and others around us.
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