Mental Illness: Myth vs. Fact
It’s unfortunate that individuals diagnosed with a mental illness often feel reluctant to discuss it due to feelings of embarrassment or shame, unlike how they would approach other medical conditions. The fear of potential avoidance or job loss further discourages them from seeking help, highlighting the pervasive stigma surrounding mental illness.
However, it’s crucial to recognize another important fact: stigma and myths are rooted in fear of the unknown and a lack of understanding or information. This can be addressed by disseminating knowledge and utilizing it to gain a better understanding and manage the situation effectively.
Thanks to advancements in technology, scientists have discovered that many mental illnesses stem from imbalances in specific brain chemicals. Therefore, it is more appropriate to refer to these conditions as brain chemistry disorders, which should be treated like physical illnesses. Examples of brain chemistry disorders include depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety and panic disorders, schizophrenia, and others.
Similar to diabetes, restoring or achieving a chemical balance is a fundamental aspect of regaining one’s health. Ongoing progress in fields such as brain imaging, molecular biology, and genetic engineering allows scientists to expand their knowledge and develop more effective treatments.
It is crucial to understand that brain chemistry disorders are not a result of personal willpower, poor parenting, or character flaws. They are biological conditions that can affect individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their socioeconomic status, education level, or background. By collectively educating ourselves about the facts and available resources for assistance, we can challenge and dispel the myths and stigma surrounding mental illness.
Local libraries offer directories of agencies providing various mental health services, including the Mental Health Service Provider Directory for the tri-county area and the Charles County Directory of Human Services, which lists other services alongside mental health resources. Furthermore, information is readily available on the internet under mental health and mental illness. By asking questions, seeking knowledge, and embracing understanding, we can overcome fear and work towards a more inclusive and supportive society.