Each year one in five Americans suffer from a mental illness. The stigma associated with mental illness is now called “sanism”. Just like racism or sexism, is a form of oppression and discrimination. There is a lot of sanism and misinformation surrounding mental illness still present within our society today. Learn some of the most common mental health misconceptions.

Mental Health Misconceptions

You Are Either Fine Or Totally Insane.

Health (both physical and mental) exist on a spectrum. Even people you would consider healthy are not always “totally sane”. Think about in terms of physical health. You can be an overall healthy person who still experiences joint pain or high cholesterol. In the same way you can have some anxiety or bipolar disorder and still be (in most cases) mentally healthy. While some people require comprehensive mental health programs, others can go through daily life more or less just like everyone else.

It’s plain and simple, having a mental illness does not mean you are “crazy”. It means you are vulnerable. It means you have an illness with challenging symptoms – the same as someone with an illness like Crohn’s disease or diabetes. While mental illness can alter your thinking, weaken your control on moods, or alter your perception of reality, it does not mean you are crazy. This just means you are battling an ongoing disease like thousands of other people.

People With Mental Illness Are Violent

Despite misconceptions that people with mental illness are likely to be violent, research has shown that this is not the case. In fact, people living with mental illness are at a higher risk of being victims of violence rather than perpetrators.

Within the last few years, the United States has had an increase in mass violence. Whenever these tragedies take place, the media is quick to judge the suspects and bring up they could be mental illness sufferers. In reality, hate is not a mental illness. Only five percent of violent crimes in the United States are committed by people with serious mental illness.

The unfortunate truth is that individuals with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. There is no reason to fear a person with a mental illness just because of a diagnosis.

People With Mental Illness Cannot Function In Society

The perception that people with mental illnesses cannot complete work leads to systemic hiring discrimination. While it is true that those with mental illnesses have additional hurdles to overcome, most can still function as well as those without mental illnesses.

People with mental health problems are just as productive as other employees. Employers who hire people with mental health problems report good attendance, punctuality, motivation, good work, and job tenure. Most of these employees are on par with or greater than the other employees.

When employees with mental health problems receive effective treatment, it can result in:

  • Lower total medical costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Decreased disability costs