1) Myth: Mental health problems are rare.
Reality: 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem, which means there’s a good chance someone you know may be struggling with mental illness or has experienced an episode of mental illness.
2) Myth: People with mental health difficulties can’t or don’t want to work.
Reality: Research shows 70 to 90% of people with mental health issues want to work, but only 37% are in paid employment. For people with severe mental illness this is far lower, it’s just 8%.
3) Myth: Persons with Mental Illness Cannot Learn New Skills
Reality: Mental health conditions have a variety of symptoms that vary in intensity. Most of my clients have learned to cope with managing their condition, juggling appointments and overcoming prejudice, so learning new skills is something they take in their stride.
4) Myth: Mental health sufferers are violent and dangerous
Reality: Official statistics consistently show that most violent crimes are committed by people who do not have a mental health condition. In general, mental health sufferers are more at risk of being attacked or harming themselves.
5) Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental illness, cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.
Reality: People with mental health problems are just as productive as other employees. Employers who hire people with mental health problems report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation on par with or greater than, other employees.
6) Myth: People with mental health problems are unable to become highly successful.
Reality: Some highly successful people can absolutely thrive while struggling with their mental health. A factor in this is that the employer capitalizes on the individual’s strengths. It’s a matter of job matching the strengths and skills of the individual, with the role. A few years ago, ‘a very successful Chief Executive who was very open about his own experiences of Bipolar disorder’ as a Trust had a very successful Chief Executive, who also suffered from Bipolar disorder.
7) Myth: You can’t recover from a mental illness.
Reality: What is so often misunderstood about mental health problems is that they don’t define a person or their potential in life. Recovery is possible with the right support and people can, and do, go on to lead rewarding, fulfilling lives.
8) Myth: We can’t talk about mental illness at work:
Realty: Work is more than a means for material support. It’s also a major way individual stay mentally healthy and socially integrated. The workplace is therefore an important place for speaking about mental health. Breaking the silence can be beneficial for removing barriers to seeking treatment, staying well and staying employed.
More than busting myths with our understanding, we need to bust myths with our actions.