By Christine Schulz on Tue, Oct 8, 2019
Thanks in part to movies, television shows, and media, many misconceptions about mental health have surfaced over the years, and if you ask someone about their interpretation of what a mental health condition is, you’ll likely receive a wide variety of completely exaggerated answers. For this World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Awareness Week, we’d like to help clear up some of these myths on the commonly misunderstood topic of mental health and clarify them with the following four facts:
False: My co-worker, family member, or friend isn’t suffering from a mental health condition because they aren’t showing any symptoms.
Truth: Sometimes, a mental health condition may not be so easy to pick up on, especially because you aren’t surrounding a single person twenty-four hours a day. You may not notice your spouse is having trouble sleeping if you’re peacefully dreaming away next to them. Although your co-worker may seem to have everything together in the office, they may have lost interest in all the activities they once found fun outside of work. If you suspect your co-worker, family member, or friend is experiencing a mental health condition, encourage them to seek the help they need and support them on their journey to recovery.
False: A mental health condition is a permanent condition that will affect someone the rest of their life.
Truth: Over 46 million American adults suffer from a mental health condition each year1, although these conditions vary significantly in severity. Some may go through short periods of stress or depression, while others may experience more chronic symptoms. Often, mental health conditions are triggered by life events, such as the loss of a loved one or the stress associated with a particular job. Recovering from a mental health condition is certainly a process and can include anything from medications and psychotherapy to meditating and changing your daily habits. However, with proper management, most people can experience relief from their symptoms and live a satisfying life by actively participating in an individualized treatment plan.
False: I feel fine, so I don’t need to think about my mental health.
Truth: Most people likely won’t recognize they are suffering from a mental health condition. And, even if you feel fine today, tomorrow may be a different story. By exercising your brain on a daily basis you’ll learn to reduce stress and think more positively, helping yourself to be in better control of stressful situations when they arise.
False: People with mental health conditions can’t handle their jobs effectively.
Truth: Those suffering from an undiagnosed mental health condition may find it difficult to focus at work. However, that doesn’t mean everyone with a condition is limited in their capabilities of doing their job. In fact, many well known historical figures experienced mental health conditions. Did you know Abraham Lincoln actually suffered from clinical depression? Or that Nikola Tesla struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder and Sir Isaac Newton lived with bi-polar disorder? Those with mental health conditions can be every bit as successful as those without, especially when they're taking action to effectively manage it.
How do you perceive mental health?
Roughly 42% of employees answered yes when asked if they have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, and 63% of those individuals say they have not discussed it with their employers2. Individuals fear they may be passed up for promotions, they’re ashamed about their mental health condition, or simply aren’t given the means to speak up. Organizations and individuals need to understand that staying mentally fit is just as important as focusing on being physically fit.
This Mental Health Awareness Week, we're challenging you to break the mental health stigma, especially in the office. We encourage organizations to recognize the need for mental health care for employees, and act on it. Think about what your organization can do to help employees who may be struggling with a mental health condition, and offer them the tools they need to manage it successfully.