Too many people think of depression, anxiety and mental illnesses in children and youth as symptoms of growing up without considering that they could be symptoms of mental health concerns. Here are a few common myths:
1. Children don’t experience mental health problems. They’re just being moody.
While 1 in 4 adults suffer from some form of serious mental health problem, children do so as well at the rate of 1 in 20. So in a classroom of about 25 kids, at least one them is likely going through a difficult time in their life.
In fact, 50% of all mental health disorders typically start at the age of 14 (75% by 24).
2. Mental illness can never go away.
The fact is, many people have and can recover from mental illness because there are many treatments available. There is lots of different professional work on finding better treatments. Through accessing different supports, people have found ways to recover. Recovery means that people have found ways to live their life, go to school, go to work, and do daily things.
75% of children and youth improve after getting treatment.
3. Children can’t have depression. Only adults can suffer from depression.
Many people can show symptoms of depression when they are young, however, it is possible that the symptoms are presented differently in adults.
4. Mental illnesses aren’t real illnesses.
Mental illnesses are real illnesses. Mental illnesses aren’t just the usual highs and lows of life, they cause distress, and they can affect your life in negative ways. Think of it this way – if you broke your wrist you wouldn’t just “get over it”, you’d be going to the doctor to get it looked at and treated. Mental illnesses need to be assessed by the appropriate healthcare professionals so you can get the treatment you need.
5. Mental illnesses are excuses for bad behaviour.
Even though people with mental illnesses sometimes behave in ways that are not acceptable to others, we have to be mindful that mental illness impacts behaviours.
6. Bad Parenting is the cause of mental illnesses.
Mental illness is impacted by many factors such as genetics, environment, biology, and life experiences. Having a supportive parent can help people with mental illnesses recover.
7. Addiction is a choice and you just aren’t trying hard enough.
It’s not necessarily true. It can be difficult for someone to just stop using and/or depend on substances on their own. Treatment can be a long term process. Addiction is very complex and it depends on genetics, environment, and/or sometimes mental illness.
Why do we even think these myths are real?
Most of the things you see on TV shows, news stories, or media do not accurately represent people’s experiences with mental illness.
What can You do?
Now that you know about these myths, you can educate others the next time someone thinks they’re real. Teaching and learning the right information is important. It also helps people with mental illnesses be understood.