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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about mental health and how it affects our society. Each year, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) fights stigma, provides support, educates the public and supports policies for people with mental health problems.

In honor of this month, we’re going to discuss five common myths about mental illness and the truths behind them. The more we know about mental health, the better we can support one another in times of need, reducing the risk for substance use, self-harm and suicide.

Myth #1. People with mental illness are crazy, violent and unpredictable.

Having a mental illness does not mean that you are crazy or violent! It means that you have a mental illness with challenging symptoms, much like being diagnosed with diabetes or arthritis. While mental illness might change your thinking, it still does not mean that you are crazy.

Unfortunately, people are often quick to judge when it comes to mental illness. For example, when there’s a mass shooting, the media is quick to label the person as “mentally disturbed” or “mentally unstable.” However, hate is not a mental illness. Only 5 percent of violent crimes are committed by people with serious mental illness.

Myth #2. Personality flaws and weaknesses cause mental illness.

Here’s another misconception: people with mental illness can just “snap out of it.” But mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak. They are complex disorders that are caused by biological factors, life experiences and family histories.

It’s also important to know that prevention works. Therefore, if a person does have the risk factors for mental illness (i.e., exposure to trauma), intervention can be a valuable tool.

Myth #3. There is no hope for people with mental health problems.

This is absolutely not true. Studies continuously show that people with mental health problems can recover – and thrive – with the right treatment center in Arizona. They are able to work, raise families and maintain healthy relationships, just like anyone else.

That being said, people with mental illness must be active participants in their recoveries. Healing doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes time, dedication and consistency.

Myth #4. Children are not affected by mental health problems.

Sadly, many children are affected by mental health problems. The CDC reports that one in six children ages 2-8-years-old have a diagnosable mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. Depression and anxiety are also increasing among children, and because of this, depression, substance use and suicide are important concerns.

It’s important to identify mental health problems in children, as they don’t just go away. They will continue on in young adulthood, perhaps causing problems with school, work, relationships, self-esteem, etc. By identifying mental illness early, it can be addressed, and the child has a greater chance of growing up to be a productive and happy member of society.

Myth #5. Medications for mental illness are unsafe.

Medications for mental illness are generally safe and effective when used as prescribed. There are side effects that can occur, but this is the case with any medication. Before taking anything, you and your doctor will make sure that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Thanks to medications for mental health, individuals with mental illness can function normally in society, improve their quality of life and manage their symptoms. Mental health medications may also be safely combined with alternative treatments and therapy for improved results.

Wolf Creek Recovery offers treatment for mental health and substance use problems. Contact our Arizona drug rehab centers to learn more about our comprehensive treatment options for co-occurring disorders.