Mental Health Misconceptions: Debunking The Medical Myths

By Daryl Lee J.Y

Over recent years, mental health, a once less talked about health topic in general has been slowly moved out of hiding and into the spotlight. Although the topic has now been receiving increase attention and research from health organisations as well as the general public, there are still many myths and misconceptions associated with the topic. Much of these misconceptions have to do with significant stigmas, traditional thinking and assumptions.  

 

What is mental health? Mental health as explained by MentalHealth.gov includes all of our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It overall affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps us to determine how we handle stress, relate to others, as well as make different choices.

 

If you experience mental health problems, your overall thinking, mood, and behavior could well be affected. The many factors that contribute to mental health problems includes:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse as well as
  • Family history of mental health problems

 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in US, it is estimated that 1 out 5 adults experience mental health problems each year. In a 2018 survey in Singapore, 1 out of 7 Singaporeans have experienced a mental health condition in their lifetime. The top 3 being major depressive disorder, alcohol abuse and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Malaysia on the hand, concluded that by the year 2020, mental health will be expected to be the second biggest health problems after heart diseases. 

 

In a national survey being carried out in all states in Malaysia, it is found that 1 out of 3 Malaysians aged 16 years above have a mental health condition. Youth that are aged between 13 to 17 years, 1 out of 5 have depression, 2 out of 5 have anxiety and 1 out of 10 has stress.

 

In the following themed featured article, we address and explore the common misconceptions regarding mental health.

Myth 1: Mental Health problems are uncommon

In 2001, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that 1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives and they are now currently 450 million people whom are experiencing such conditions.

Myth 2: Panic attacks can be fatal

Panic attacks are incredibly unpleasant, involving a racing heartbeat and an overriding sense of fear. However, they cannot directly be fatal. It is worth noting that, if someone is experiencing a panic attack or can feel one coming on, finding a safe space can help mitigate this risk.

Myth 3: People with mental health conditions cannot work

It is often a persistent myth that people with mental health issues cannot hold down a job or be useful members of the workforce. This is entirely false.

In a U.S study published in 2014, the research investigated employment status according to mental illness severity. It is found that, 54.5% of individuals with severe conditions were employed, compared with 75.9% of people without a mental illness, 68.8% of people with mild mental illness, and 62.7% of people with moderate mental illness.

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