1. Talking about mental health and/or going to therapy is a sign of weakness.
Initiating and engaging in conversations about mental health and/or seeking treatment is not weak. It is a sign of self-advocacy and awareness of your own needs. Not talking about mental health can exacerbate existing symptoms, create new ones, or instill feelings of self-neglect and isolation from support.
2. You must be in active crisis to seek mental health services and/or therapy.
While many may seek initial treatment in an active crisis or following a significant loss or challenging life change, those are not the only reasons to seek therapy, nor are they required to seek care. Consider thinking about your mental health like your physical health: yearly checkups are incredibly important to determine your overall functioning and detect potential illnesses early to prevent long-term harm.
3. You only need to care for your mental health if you have a clinical diagnosis.
Everyone can benefit from taking steps to improve their mental health. For example, deep breathing exercises are a great way to practice mindfulness and manage feelings of worry and anxiety, regardless of whether you have a clinical diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
4. People who struggle with their mental health are violent and/or dangerous.
People who struggle with their mental health are more likely to be victimized by others. This myth has a notable impact on more stigmatized clinical diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This misconception is also often weaponized against marginalized communities.
5. Children and teens do not struggle with their mental health.
Research suggests that half of the adults with present mental health concerns first showed signs before the age of 14. Many factors can account for this, most of which are outside of the child’s or even their parent’s control. However, protective factors such as social and familial support can mitigate some of the effects of negative or traumatic events.
6. People with strong social support would not benefit from therapy.
Having a strong social network and community is essential and can reduce feelings of loneliness and encourage growth and overall wellness, but it is not the same as therapy. Here are some reasons why:
a. Therapists are objective.
Therapists are required to remain nonjudgmental, refrain from taking sides, and take the time to understand your unique lived experience as you see it.
b. Therapy is completely and entirely about you.
The therapist will ensure that each session focuses solely on what is happening in your life and your thoughts and feelings around them.
c. Therapy is confidential.
Without your explicit and informed consent, your therapist cannot share anything you tell them in session with anyone, except for planned severe harm to self or others or the abuse and/or neglect of a child or disabled adult.
7. Talking about suicide encourages suicide attempts.
Many people experience thoughts of suicide at some point in their lives. Talking about and acknowledging these thoughts and feelings is the first step to getting help. Refraining from talking about suicide further stigmatizes those who have experienced thoughts or have attempted in the past.