Myths and Misconceptions, 6 Little-Known Facts About Mental Illness

Mental illness is a serious and common problem and, unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about what mental illness is, why it occurs, and who it affects. Clearing up these myths is the first step towards addressing the stigma associated with mental illness sufferers. To get started, the following are six true facts about mental illness.

Mental Illnesses Affect Nearly Half the Population

Many people believe that only a small portion of the population deals with mental illness. In reality, mental illness has about a 46 percent lifetime prevalence, meaning that almost half the population has been affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. The World Health Organization believes that the lifetime prevalence is actually higher, but many illnesses go undiagnosed.

Mental Health Problems Can Occur in Children

About half of people with mental illness show signs of the disorder before the age of 14, and about 75 percent of disorders begin before the age of 24. Between seven and 10 percent of preschool-aged children have psychiatric disorders.

Music Can Help Treat Mental Disorders

Music therapy is a common tool used in psychiatric hospitals and as one-on-one therapy. A music teacher with a master’s degree in music education says there have been several studies conducted on the effects of music therapy on those suffering from mental disorders. Listening to music, singing, or playing an instrument can help people with mental illnesses express emotions, improve their motivation and self-image, and enhance their relationships with others.

Both Genetics and The Environment Can Play a Part

One common myth is that either genetics or the environment is the sole cause of mental illness. However, for most disorders, a combination of the two factors is responsible. For many disorders, such as PTSD, some people are born with a genetic predisposition, but they won’t develop the disorder unless something in their environment causes it.

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Mental Illness is Not the Same Everywhere

Because of cultural differences, different disorders are more common in some countries than others. Obsessive-compulsive disorders are more common in Europe, Latin America, and Africa, and schizophrenia is more common in Asia and Oceania.

Mental Illness Can Lead to Physical Complications

Individuals with depression are reported to be more likely to die from heart disease than those without depression. People with schizophrenia may be more at risk for heart disease and respiratory disease, and people with anxiety are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and muscle tension.

Although almost everyone either is affected or knows someone who is affected by a mental illness, many people’s beliefs about mental illness are inaccurate. Knowing the facts is vital for understanding and offering support to those who struggle with mental health problems.