The popular culture, audiovisual industry, and media have, over the decades, favored the stigmatization and perpetuation of negative stereotypes associated with people with mental disorders.
Despite numerous awareness campaigns and the wealth of information available about the reality and day-to-day life of people living with a disorder, many false beliefs about mental health persist, hindering open discussion.
The majority of these assertions are detached from reality, lack any scientific basis, promote attitudes of rejection and intolerance, and create additional distress for those affected and their surroundings.
People with a mental disorder are violent and aggressive
People with a mental disorder, even a severe one, are not inherently violent. They have the same likelihood of exhibiting violent episodes as anyone else. On the contrary, they are more vulnerable to becoming victims of violence and other crimes than those without a mental health disorder.
They cannot live in society because they do not adapt
People with a mental disorder can coexist perfectly in society if they have the necessary support and resources for an independent and autonomous life. Having a strong social network—professional, familial, friendships, romantic—predicts better outcomes and acts as a protective factor against relapses.
People with a mental health problem will never recover
Some mental disorders are chronic, accompanying a person throughout their life, but with appropriate treatments, support, and monitoring, recovery is possible.
They cannot work
They can work like anyone else if provided with the necessary conditions and support. Often, the barrier to employment is not the disorder itself but the society and administrations’ insufficient preparation to provide necessary resources. Having a job has significant benefits for anyone, improving self-esteem and establishing a routine in daily life.
It won’t happen to me
Mental disorders do not discriminate based on age, gender, culture, or economic situation; they can affect anyone. They are more common than one might think, with the World Health Organization estimating that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental disorder at some point in their life.
People with a mental disorder are better off in a mental health hospital
Many people, sometimes out of ignorance, reject the possibility of coexistence with diversity. Community treatment has proven effective. Currently, except for some exceptions, mental health hospitals are seen as temporary containment spaces for acute episodes. Those treated in the community show better and more sustained progress over time.
If someone has a disorder, it’s because they drink, use drugs, or don’t take care of themselves
Drug use is considered a factor that can trigger the onset or worsen the symptoms of a mental disorder, but it is not always the primary cause. Most people with mental disorders take care of themselves and do not use harmful substances, yet they still have the disorder. We cannot blame individuals for developing the symptoms they present.
Children and adolescents do not have mental health disorders
Young children can exhibit early warning signs that may be concerning for their mental health. These problems can be clinically identified and may result from the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.
Mental disorders cause intellectual disability
A mental disorder does not cause or equate to intellectual disability; these are two different things. A person with a mental disorder does not necessarily experience a reduction in cognitive abilities or skills.
There’s no way to help people with a mental disorder
There are treatments, strategies, and support from associations for those in need. If individuals affected receive appropriate treatment, they can lead fully fulfilling lives. Society, in general, can and should contribute to promoting good mental health in the population.
Someone who has had a mental disorder will never fully recover
Individuals who have had a mental disorder can completely improve: they can work, learn, and participate fully and actively in the community.
I can’t help anyone suffering from a mental disorder
Detecting symptoms that may indicate a person has a mental disorder is crucial for their prognosis, and those most likely to do so are people in their close environment. Various symptoms can indicate that someone needs help: emotional instability, changes in eating and sleeping habits, behavioral changes, suicidal thoughts, etc.