6 Myths and Facts on Mental Illness

Man looking up in a field

Millions of individuals face suffering with the struggles of one or many mental illnesses each year. Though not everyone may experience a mental illness, everyone can be affected by one through family of friends. For Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 4 – 10), or MIAW, I've provided a list of myths commonly believed about mental health and the true facts on them. See below for mental illness resources provided by RIT.

Myth: Character flaws or mental weaknesses cause mental health problems. 

This is undeniably false. Mental health problems are not at all an extension of being lazy or weak. In fact, these traits can come about due to mental illness. However, there are a lot of real factors that can affect and endanger an individual's mental wellness. These include but are not limited to:

  • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems


Myth: Mental Illness is unpreventable. 

Though there is no specified method to preventing mental health illness, keeping tabs on serious risk factors might help prevent future issues for younger individuals. These of course cannot guarantee prevention, but can help. The biggest factor is the promotion of emotional and mental well-being at an individual's young age. Here is an article that covers some risk factors for early age prevention.

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Myth: Those with Bipolar Disorder are just moody. 

While Bipolar Disorder can create shifts in mood, episodes can last for weeks or years. They can experience highs and lows that are much different and more extreme than the average emotional fluctuation of someone who does not have Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder causes an individual to experience mania and depressive states. Episodes of mood swings can occur rarely or multiple times a year. While some may experience shifts in their emotional state, some don't experience any. 

Myth: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder only affects soldiers.

Yes, veterans can and do experience PTSD, however, so do a lot of those who have not been a soldier. Anyone can have and experience Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Most people who have experienced traumatic events can develop PTSD, which can cause flashbacks, anxiety, nightmares, and excessive thinking about events. These symptoms can occur years after an individual's traumatic experience, however, many individuals can recover from PTSD. 

Myth: People with Schizophrenia are violent or dangerous.

Schizophrenia is not at all what they portray in the movies. This mental disorder causes an individual to experience reality abnormally. This can include hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. Though those diagnosed with schizophrenia can act unpredictably, this is often not at all harmful, especially if the individual is in treatment. Often those who do act violent have some other condition or motive. 

woman standing on water with sun in background

Myth: Those who experience an Eating Disorder just don't eat. 

This is wildly untrue. Eating Disorders are often an extension of other underlying health issues, and there are many kinds of them, including Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge-Eating disorder. Eating disorders are eating habits that negatively effect your health, such as low consumption of food, high consumption of food, over-exercising, forgetfulness, and much more. Though those who experience Anorexia often follow very restrictive habits, they still intake food. 


There are many myths and much stigma still surrounding a lot of mental illness. Please be kind, do your research, and stay safe, Tigers. 

Mental Health Resources 

If you are experiencing any form of mental illness that may be affecting your every day functionality or health, you are not alone in this. There are people here to help you. 

RIT's resources: 

Other recourses:





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