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#LetsTalk: 5 Facts Everyone Should Know About Mental Illness

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Unfortunately, there are still a lot of myths, misconceptions, and stigma surrounding mental illnesses. For instance, many people believe that mental health disorders don’t affect children, or that people with mental illnesses can simply ‘snap out of it.’ The truth is that mental health issues can affect everyone and are serious diseases, just like physical illnesses.

To help you understand the complex nature of psychological health, here are five facts everyone should know about mental illness:

1. Mental illness is extremely common

Mental health disorders are extremely common and affect around 43.8 million Americans each year according to research by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. People can suffer from many different mental illnesses including depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, schizophrenia, and eating disorders. The symptoms vary from person to person but can often be severe enough to affect a person’s ability to function at work, school, or in their personal life.

2. Mental illness is not caused by personal weakness

Someone cannot choose to have a mental illness, just like someone cannot choose to have a physical illness such as diabetes or cancer. Mental health disorders are caused by various biological and environmental factors and are not the result of personal weakness. However, certain things can increase someone’s chances of developing a mental health disorder, such as a traumatic experience during childhood or an overly stressful working environment.

3. Mental illness affects people of all ages

You should be aware that mental illnesses can affect people of all ages, genders, and races. Many mental health disorders develop in childhood or during adolescent years. Even very young children can start to show the early warning signs of a mental health disorder i.e. social withdrawal, temper tantrums, intense feelings, or teenage body image problems. Unfortunately, many mental health disorders in children go unnoticed for many years. This can cause developmental issues and lead to long-term consequences that may affect them in later life. For that reason, you should educate yourself on how to identify early warning signs of psychiatric disorders in children.

4. Mental illness does not stop you working

There is a common misconception that people with mental illness are unable to hold down a steady job or are unreliable. However, research shows that employees with mental illness can be just as productive, reliable, and hard-working. With the right treatment and support, anyone with a mental illness should be able to continue working or studying and lead a normal, fulfilling life.

5. Mental illness can be effectively treated

Effective treatment can greatly improve the symptoms of mental illness and many people make a full recovery over time. If you or your loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder, then you must seek specialist support. The first step is often to visit your general healthcare provider. They will discuss your concerns, advise on the best course of treatment, and refer you to a mental health professional if necessary. Many clinics offer treatment programs that can be tailored to suit your specific needs and requirements.

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