With September being suicide awareness month, many topics surrounding mental health have been widely discussed, especially on social media. However, even with the best of intentions, there are still many misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental illnesses, especially for those who struggle with thoughts of suicide. Here are some of the most common misconceptions, and ways to address them:
- Feeling suicidal keeps sufferers from doing anything
While lack of energy is a common symptom, mental illness manifests itself in many ways. Just because someone seems happy for the most part or continues to lead a busy life does not mean there is nothing lying beneath the surface.
- Mental illness makes you dangerous
From justifying crime to background for horror movie villains, mental illness is used to explain a plethora of unrelated violence. While it can influence thought patterns, mental illness does not create monsters. People are not unhinged simply because of their mental health.
- Mental illness is a sign of weakness or laziness
Simply existing can be a struggle when mental illness is involved. Everyday tasks become overwhelming and take a tremendous amount of strength.
- You’re not “sick enough” to justify getting help
Mental health is a spectrum. It’s not mentally ill vs. mentally healthy, and there are many causes. Trauma can be a source, but it is not the only reason for someone to struggle.
- Treatment is easy
Counseling is not always easily accessible, and medication is not a ‘quick fix.’ It takes time to find the right fit, and often things get worse before they get better. Patience is key.
While recovery is not “one size fits all,” there are resources available at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml
It is also important to remember to check in with your friends, and to be there for them, but also to reach out when you need help. Being in a dark place is nothing to be ashamed of. While struggling with mental health is not an easy fight by any means, there is so much to look forward to along the way.