It is important to be aware of the increased risks so you can get support when it’s needed. At the same time, it helps to learn the truth behind some of the pervasive myths about mental health. It’s likely that you’ve been exposed to one or all of these myths at some point, but with a better understanding of the facts, you’ll be better equipped to deal with any mental health challenges that might pop up in your own life.

Myth #1: Mental health conditions are rare.

If you had to guess, what percentage of people have mental health issues? Many people are surprised to learn just how common these conditions are. Each year, about one in five American adults experience a mental health condition, and one in six young people experience a major depressive episode. One in 20 Americans have experienced a serious mental illness, like major depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, at some point in their lives.

If you’re dealing with a mental health problem, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Even if you haven’t been affected by these types of conditions, the statistics show that you probably know at least a few people who have. It’s time we stop thinking of mental health issues as something rare and start viewing them as a typical part of the human experience. This helps to destigmatize mental illness and encourage people to get the help they need when they experience mental health challenges.

 Myth #2: Psychiatric medications are the “easy way out.”

Some people simply aren’t comfortable with the idea of medications used to treat psychiatric disorders. They feel that these meds are just “happy pills” which cover up the problems and give people an easy way out when they’re going through difficult times.

This idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Mental illnesses are just as legitimate as physical illnesses, and in some cases, medication is necessary for proper treatment. They can even be life-saving for people who are struggling with serious mental health conditions. There are many different types of medications available as well, so doctors can help their patients find an appropriate option for anything from mild anxiety to severe depression. These medications often go hand in hand with ongoing therapy, helping to significantly improve an individual’s quality of life.

It can be useful to think of psychiatric meds as being comparable to ADHD medications. While they aren’t necessary in every case, they can be incredibly effective when it comes to managing the symptoms of the condition. The stigma around mental health and ADHD medications only harms those who need those treatments the most.

Myth #3: People with mental illnesses tend to be violent and dangerous.

Unfortunately, one of the most persistent mental health myths is that those with mental illnesses are more likely to act aggressively or violently. The association between mental illness and criminality is often fueled by coverage of certain events in the press. When criminals are described as “crazy,” it only cements this idea even more in the public’s mind.

The reality is that a very small fraction of people with mental illnesses actually commit violent crimes. In fact, the vast majority of these acts are committed by people with no known mental illnesses. To make matters worse, research has found that a person with a mental illness is actually far more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than to be the perpetrator. In reality, it’s the people with mental illnesses that need more protection, rather than protecting against those suffering from these conditions.

Myth #4: There’s no way to prevent a mental health condition.

This myth is misleading. There are many steps you can take to help prevent mental health conditions, such as creating deeper social connections and developing stronger emotional regulation skills. You can also work on taking good care of yourself in small ways each day, like getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and practicing mindfulness. If you’re living with ADHD and know that you have an increased risk for mental health comorbidities, these are all smart actions to take to protect your mental health.

These steps aren’t effective at preventing mental health issues 100% of the time. It’s important to know that if you do all of these things and still develop anxiety, depression, or a mental illness, it’s not a failure on your part. However, the preventative steps described above can also serve as tools to better manage any mental health conditions that you may deal with now or in the future.