Mental health is becoming more and more of a hot topic but there’s some mental health myths that need to be dispelled. It’s coming to the forefront of conversations, especially because of the Olympics. With athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles talking about it, many are starting to recognize the fact that mental health is health! Simone was quoted as saying
At the end of the day, we’re not just athletes or entertainment. We’re human too, and we have real emotions.Simone Biles
And guess what?! She’s not wrong! The world looks at Olympians and sees them as these impressive, larger then life beings that can overcome anything. While that may be true, what Simone said is also true. Present and past Olympians are speaking out on behalf of Simone too. The figure skater, Adam Rippon, said “Stress and pressure have a price. The body keeps score.” Adam isn’t wrong either. When you’re burnt out, how do you feel physically? I bet you don’t feel well. Nastia Liukin, a former gold-medal Olympic gymnast, said that how Simone handled what she was going through was creating a safe space for current and future athletes. In all honesty, I think Simone is creating a safe space for all of us.
The fact that we are able to see mental health as a real issue (FINALLY) is encouraging to me. Despite the fact that we’re making progress, there are still mental health myths that need to be addressed. I’m going to go through five of the biggest ones and give you some context to help you understand why these myths needs to be abolished.
Myth # 1 – Working on your Mental Health is Different Than Working on Your Physical Heal
My rebuttal – health is health, period, end. Whether you’re working on your physical health, your mental health, your emotional health or your spiritual health, it’s all intertwined. You cannot have one without the other. While I’m not an expert or a doctor, I’ve heard many say that making sure your brain is in check is more important than working on making your muscles stronger. In many cases, I tend to agree because your brain controls all of it. If you’re not mentally stable, your body won’t function at its peak.
There’s also a discussion that needs to happen surrounding sick days versus mental health days. I worked in the corporate environment for 14 years and the company I worked for seemed to look down upon taking a mental health day. Yet they were fine if you had to take a sick day. Why is one more important than the other? I don’t think it is and I wish many companies would understand that taking a mental health day is just as important as taking a sick day.
Myth # 2 – Living with a Mental Health Condition is a Sign of Weakness
Some say asking for help is a sign of weakness. I challenge you to think neither is a weakness. If anything, it’s a super power. Many people in the world that have a mental health condition are some of the strongest people out there. Every day, they’re fighting an uphill battle just because they don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. In many cases, they’re working extremely hard to make sure things look like they’re ok and all is well in their world. And in a lot of cases, they’re working one if not multiple jobs and they’re taking care of their families despite not having the energy to do so. Those living with a mental health condition definitely are not weak.
Myth # 3 – The Strong Ones Don’t Need Help
Believe it or not, the strong ones are the individuals that need help the most! Saying the strong ones don’t need help is like saying because someone has a lot of friends, they don’t need therapy. They’re the people out there putting on the brave face and trying to make it seem like everything is ok. I can relate to this myth so much because I’ve always been one of the strong ones. Despite how I’ve felt inside, on the outside everything has looked peachy keen. It’s rosy and no one really knows what’s going on. Why? Because strong ones don’t usually like to bother people with their issues so they keep everything inside.
If you fall into this category, you my experience symptoms that some may consider strange or odd. Emotional numbness is one of those symptoms. That’s when you simply feel nothing. It’s hard when you feel that way because others around you start to think there’s something wrong, but won’t say anything. That’s when the distancing starts to happen. You aren’t sure how to ask for help, so you don’t, and you start to say no when invited to things. Trust me, the strong ones definitely need help too.
Myth # 4 – Not Everyone Has Mental Health Concerns
This may seem to be true and maybe it’s because they don’t have serious concerns but rest assured, everyone gets down from time to time. Twenty years ago, the World Health Organization did a study and found that one in four people in the world would be affected by mental health issues at some point in their life. Just last year, they learned that 450 million people were living with a mental health condition. Yes, that’s not all the people on the planet, but it is a significant number. About 260 million people have depression and about six million people have generalized anxiety disorder. I am one of those six million people and I have several close friends that are right there with me.
Myth # 5 – You Can Always Tell When Someone has a Mental Illness
Let me give you some names and you tell me if you knew that they had a mental illness. Robin Williams, Chris Farley and Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain, Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell. While these are just a few of the celebrities we’ve lost in recent years, I had no idea these individuals suffered. Robin Williams and Chris Farley were always funny and trying to make other people laugh. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain traveled the world and looked like they had it all. Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell were musical geniuses and entertained tons of fans. On the outside, they looked fine, but on the inside they were falling apart.
Have you fallen prey to these mental health myths in the past? If you have, remember that it is ok! You’re not alone. But I want you to remember a few things. . .
Remember that it’s ok to ask for help. Call a friend, your therapist or anyone else that you think can help when you need to talk to someone. And if you’re feeling suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
Don’t pass judgement on someone else’s decisions, especially if you are not involved in those decisions. When Simone Biles announced that she would not be participating in the team finals, social media went at her. . .HARD! They said she quit, they said she failed but they were NOT involved in the decision she made. If you don’t know enough about the situation, ask questions if it’s appropriate to do so.
Lastly, always be kind, because you never know what’s someone is going through.