Myths about mental health

Asian Americans do not access mental health treatment as much as other racial/ethnic groups do, perhaps due to strong stigma related to mental illness. Emotional problems are viewed as shameful and distressing which may limit help-seeking behaviors. Asian Americans with mental health problems tend to rely on family to handle problems. There are many myths about mental illness. Until people learn the truth, they will continue to deny that mental illness exists at all or to avoid the topic entirely.

How much do you know about mental illness? Here are some of the common myths and truths.

People with mental illness are violent and dangerous. Mentally ill people are no more violent than any other group. In fact, they are far more likely to be the victims of violence than to be violent themselves.
People with mental illness are poor and/or less intelligent. Many studies show that most mentally ill people have average or above-average intelligence. Mental illness, like physical illness, can affect anyone regardless of intelligence, social class or income level.
Mental illness is caused by a personal weakness and can recover from a mental illness by turning his or her thoughts positively and with prayer. A mental illness is not a character flaw. It is an illness, and it has nothing to do with being weak or lacking will-power. Recovery is possible when the person receives the necessary treatment and support. Spirituality can also be an important source of strength for some individuals. Although people with mental illness can play a big part in their own recovery, they DID NOT choose to become ill.
Mental illness is a single, rare disorder. Mental illness is not a single disease but a broad classification for many disorders.
Mental health problems are best treated by primary care physician or a general practitioner. Mental disorders should be taken as seriously as any potentially chronic and disabling medical condition, therefore, mental disorders are best treated by a trained specialist -- a mental health professional, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other clinician specially trained to diagnose and treat mental health problems.
Stress causes mental illness. This is only partially true. Stress may occasionally trigger an episode or cause symptoms such as anxiety or depression, but persistent symptoms appear to be biological in nature. There are probably many things that can contribute to mental illness. The cause is not yet fully understood.
Most people with mental illness live on the streets or are in mental hospitals. Over two-thirds of Americans who have a mental illness live in the community and lead productive lives. Most people who need hospitalization are only there for brief periods to get treatment and are then able to return home, just like people hospitalized for other conditions. Some people with mental illness do become homeless and could benefit from treatment and services.