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Myths & Facts

Learn the truth about mental illness and help dispel the myths.

  • Myth: There is no hope for people with mental illnesses.

    • Fact: Mental illness is successfully treated at a much higher rate than many other chronic and serious health conditions, particularly when treated early.
  • Myth: Teenagers don’t suffer from “real” mental illnesses; they are just moody.

    • Fact: One in five children and adolescents suffer from mental illness. Most severe mental illnesses start in the teenage years.
  • Myth: Talk about suicide is an idle threat that should not be taken seriously.

    • Fact: 90% or more of all suicide victims have a mental illness and/or a substance abuse problem. For people ages 15-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.
  • Myth: Mental health problems are the result of poor parenting and lack of discipline.

    • Fact: Mental illnesses are often inherited from one generation to another and may have little or nothing to do with parenting. They can also be caused by problems during pregnancy or by head trauma.
  • Myth: Mental illnesses are not real and cannot be treated.

    • Fact: Mental disorders are diagnosed in similar ways as asthma, diabetes and cancer. Treatments of mental illness are effective 60-80% of the time. This rate meets or exceeds success rates for cutting edge treatment for heart disease.
  • Myth: We’re good people. Mental illness doesn’t happen to me and my family.

    • Fact: One in five Americans will suffer at some point from a mental health problem. These Americans are from ALL backgrounds. There is no way to predict who will develop a mental illness.
  • Myth: Depression is normal (aka “the blues”). You can “get over it” without treatment.

    • Fact: Major depression is a real, treatable illness that affects 19 million adult Americans every year. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States, more than back problems, heart disease and liver failure.
  • Myth: Private health insurance routinely does not cover mental health services.

    • Fact: Well over 90% of companies with health insurance cover some mental heath care, but often in discriminatory ways.
  • Myth: Stay away from people with mental illness because they’re violent.

    • Fact: More often, mentally ill people are victims of violence, stigma and discrimination. Virtually every study shows that persons with mental disorders are no more violent than other Americans, assuming that they don’t abuse alcohol or illegal drugs and are receiving treatment.

This list was compiled by The National Mental Health Awareness Campaign, an organization dedicated to reducing stigma associated with mental illnesses. Replacing wrong ideas with facts helps young people come out of the darkness of isolation into the light of treatment and wellness.