Breaking Down Myths About Mental Health

Dr. Nailah Thompson

With all that’s going on in the world, at lot of us are dealing with more stress in our lives. But when is stress more than stress? In our culture, and in our community, people can be reluctant to seek help for common mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

As a primary care physician in Oakland treating patients and their families, I know that taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. But talking about how you are feeling can be difficult.

We don’t always know why we don’t feel our best, but sometimes we are greatly affected by trauma. In America today, trauma can come in many forms, from being the victim of a violent crime to being unfairly treated because of your race or appearance. It takes time and care to heal from trauma just like it takes time and care to heal from an injury, and there’s no shame in needing help to heal.

There are myths about mental health that can keep you from taking care of yourself. Let’s look at these myths and see what’s really true.

Myth: People with mental health concerns never get better

Fact: Treatment works for more than 8 in 10 people who get help for depression, and as many as 9 in 10 people who get help for panic attacks.

Myth: People with mental health conditions are not strong enough

Fact: Many factors can impact mental health—including biology, environment, and challenging life events. Anyone can develop a mental health condition—there’s no single cause, and it isn’t anyone’s fault.

Myth: If I get treatment, my boss will know

Fact: You decide who you want to tell — and not tell — about your care. Your medical record is confidential, and you can’t lose your job or your health insurance for getting treatment for a mental health or addiction issue.

Myth: If I get treatment, I will have to take medication

Fact: There are many types of treatment. Medication is just one of them—and it’s typically combined with therapy, self-care resources, and other types of support. We don’t automatically recommend medication to everyone—it’s a personal decision made between a patient and their doctor.

If you sometimes feel so sad, so worried, or so stressed, that it is affects your work or your family, or if you have any other concerns, don’t hesitate to bring it up with your doctor. You deserve the chance to heal.

For additional information on depression and how to recognize it and talk about it, visit www.findyourwords.org

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