Mental Health Myths and Facts

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: March 2023

There are many myths and misconceptions about mental health. Because of the stigma around mental health conditions, it is important to know the facts. This article aims to dispel these myths around mental health.

Myth: Mental health conditions are uncommon

Fact: Mental health conditions are not something to be ashamed of and are common around the world. Nearly 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 children in the United States have some sort of mental health condition. These conditions can fall on a spectrum. About 1 in 20 US adults experience a serious mental health condition.1,2

Myth: People with mental health conditions caused their own problems

Fact: If you have a mental health condition, it is not your fault. Mental health conditions are complex.1,2

Doctors believe a combination of genes, environment, and life events interact to lead to the development of a mental health condition. A stressful job or grief may be a trigger for some, while trauma might be for others. But not all people who have such events or situations develop a mental health condition.1,2

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Myth: Mental health conditions are not actual illnesses

Fact: Mental health conditions are real. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health because the 2 are closely connected. Stigma and negative thoughts about mental health challenges continue to keep this myth going. It is important to know this myth is false.1

Myth: People living with a mental health condition are dangerous and violent

Fact: The majority of people living with mental health conditions are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. In fact, people with a diagnosis of a severe mental condition are 10 times more likely to be the victims of violence than those without one.3

Myth: People with a mental health condition should “just snap out of it”

Fact: Like other myths, this one is harmful to those living with a mental health condition. This myth suggests that people living with a mental condition are not trying hard enough to get better.3

The reality is that mental health conditions are medical issues that need medical treatment, such as therapy and prescription medicines. Many people are doing the best they can to manage or improve their mental health, but their symptoms still persist.3

Myth: People living with a mental health condition cannot hold a job

Fact: People living with mental health conditions are productive members of society. Sadly, this myth keeps many of those living with a mental health condition away from the job market. The impact of unemployment or underemployment on society is huge.3,4

People living with a mental health condition should be encouraged to enter or re-enter the workforce. They can be just as successful as those who do not. Employers may be required by law to provide reasonable accommodations for them.3,4

Myth: Counseling is a waste of time

Fact: Therapy is a valuable treatment to improve mental health and quality of life. Research shows that counseling improves daily function and reduces missed work days and drug costs. It is also cost-effective and can decrease the need for doctor visits and hospitalization. These benefits of therapy can last for years.3,5

There are different forms of therapy. If you want to consider counseling as a treatment option, talk to your doctor or mental health provider.5