5 Mental Health Myths Debunked

Mental health is personal to each individual, be kind.


Mental health is complex, it isn’t one size fits all. It’s incredibly personal yet it often gets judged harshly, and usually under false pretenses. It’s only fairly recently that people have truly started to understand and seek help for mental health, for years it was frowned upon and brushed under the carpet. 

We’ve come a long way since then, but there are still some misconceptions that can be incredibly dangerous and harmful to our health.

Only teenage girls self-harm 

It’s true that young people are more likely to self-harm than adults, but it certainly isn’t limited to teenage girls. Men and women of all ages can turn to self-harm. It’s also common to assume it’s a ‘teenage fad’ or ‘attention seeking’ which can be extremely damaging. Many people don’t report their self-harm because it’s a coping method to deal with overwhelming or undesired emotions: a feeling not exclusive to young girls. 

You must be thin to have an eating disorder 

You absolutely cannot judge someone’s health from their body and eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Judging someone as ‘not thin’ enough to be sick, only serves to increase disordered eating. Also, there are multiple eating disorders including binge eating, orthorexia and bulimia, not just anorexia. 

If you’re still smiling and seeing your friends, you can’t be depressed

Outwardly, many people with depression may seem perfectly ordinary and happy. They go to school, laugh with their friends and post on Instagram. But many people also suffer in silence. There have been far too many accounts of utterly shocking suicides because people act fine. So, always treat people with kindness because you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.

Not checking in on your friends led them to suicide

Checking in your friends is important, but it’s not the sole reason that prevents suicide. There are so many factors that need to be part of the conversation. The root of the problem is often not lack of friendship and love, it’s deeper than that. Rather, we need health services and legal systems in place to protect our mental health.

Mental illnesses are a choice 

Mental illnesses are cause by an array of complex factors that are entirely unique to the individual. Our genes, environment and relationships all have a part to play. Often when you develop a mental illness, rationality becomes further away and the illness can feel like it’s taking up all the space in your mind and body. It’s not simply a bad mood you can ‘snap out of’, it’s deeper than that. Just like breaking your leg or catching a cold, it’s not a choice. 

According to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease study, roughly 13% of the global population, that’s 971 million people, suffer from mental illness and the British mental health charity Mind, says that one in four people will experience a mental illness.

Mental health is more than spending time with loved ones, exercising and mindfulness (although they’re all important). We need support, prescriptions, funding and therapy. As part of this, we need to alter public perception of mental health and support one another.