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5 myths about mental health

Posted on May. 16, 2019 ( comments)

When you hear the term “mental illness,” what comes to mind?

You may think of yourself, if you suffer from depression or anxiety — or maybe your mind jumps to someone on the street talking to themselves incoherently.

There are many types of mental illnesses, and what comes to mind will vary depending on your personal experience and exposure to it.

Unfortunately, this also means many myths persist about mental illness: what it looks like, who suffers from it and how to treat it.

We talked to Angie Riske, manager of MultiCare Behavioral Health Services, to debunk some common myths about mental illness.

“The stigma around mental illness is powerful and it comes with a long history,” Riske says. “It can be difficult to understand what is not personally known to us. The symptoms and experiences of mental health issues are not universally experienced.”

Myth: People with mental illness are violent and unpredictable.

Fact: This is often how people with mental health issues are portrayed in the media, and these are the behaviors that society notices and often attributes to mental illness. Rather than being more likely to be violent, people with mental illness actually have a higher likelihood of being victims of violent crimes.

Myth: People with mental illness are “faking it” or doing it for attention.

Fact: This is comparable to believing that someone with cancer or diabetes is seeking attention. No one would choose to have these physical illnesses, just as one would not choose to have a mental illness.

Myth: Medication is always the answer and therapy is a waste of time.

Fact: Medication may be the appropriate treatment or part of a treatment for some. This varies for everyone. Often a combination of medication and therapy are used to support recovery.

Myth: People with a mental illness can’t function in day-to-day life or hold down a job.

Fact: People with mental health issues are as likely to be involved in school, work and their community as those without. Many individuals who experience mental illness learn skills for managing stressors and problem-solving as tools for self-care.

Myth: People with jobs who dress well and act “normal” can’t possibly be suffering from a mental illness.

Fact: Mental illness is often something you do not see, regardless of where someone lives or how much money they have. It is certain that the people you meet every day are coping with mental health issues completely unknown to you.


MultiCare offers mental health services throughout Pierce and King counties.

Learn more about services offered by MultiCare Behavioral Health

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, there are both local and national resources available to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a crisis:

Pierce County Mental Health Crisis Line: 800-576-7764

King County Mental Health Crisis Line: 866-427-4747

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: 741741 (How it works)

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