Help End Stigma: 3 Myths About Mental Illness

The stigma associated with mental illness is perpetuated by misinformation. Staying informed is the first step to overcoming the myths.

Three commonly held myths about mental illness:

Myth #1: People with mental illnesses are violent.

Reality: The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) states that people who experience mental illness are no more violent than people without a mental illness. The reality is that people who experience mental illnesses are much more likely to be victims of violence than to be violent.

Although the media portrays mental illness (i.e., schizophrenia) as dangerous, very little violence in society is caused by people experiencing mental illness.

Myth #2: Mental illness isn’t a real illness.

Reality: Similar to physical health, mental health affects all of us whether it’s directly, or indirectly. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) one in five Canadians live with a mental illness each year. Mental illness is characterized by alterations in thinking, mood or behaviour associated with significant distress and impaired functioning (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2015).

Mental illnesses do not just go away on their own, and are real health problems with effective treatment options (CMHA, 2016).

Myth #3: People don’t recover from mental illness.

Reality: CMHA reports that people can and do recover from mental illnesses. People who experience serious mental illness are often active members of society who are able to manage their symptoms with the help of treatments and supports.

No one has to feel unwell forever.

Did you know?

  • Postsecondary students experience increased levels of mental health problems compared with their peers, with anxiety and depression being most prevalent (Eisenberg, Gollust, & Golberstein, 2007).
  • A 2013 national research survey organized by the American College Health Association (ACHA) reported that 56.5% of the 34,039 Canadian postsecondary student respondents felt overwhelming anxiety and 37.5% felt so depressed that it was difficult to function during the previous twelve months (ACHA, 2013).

Mental health services and supports available for students