By Cindy Becker, Executive Director
Mid-Valley Behavioral Care Network
Mental health awareness is celebrated the first week in October and in May; however, people in our community live with mental health challenges every day. They just don't talk about it, and often won't get help, because of the stigma and shaming that accompanies it.
Here are some myths and facts to promote a better understanding and acceptance of mental health challenges:
Myth: Mental health problems don't affect me.
Fact: Mental health problems are actually very common.
One in five American adults experience a mental health issue
One in 10 young people experience a period of major depression
One in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for more than double the number of lives lost to homicide.
Myth: Children don't experience mental health problems.
Fact: Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters begin before age 24. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.
Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.
Myth: There is no hope for people with mental health problems. Once a friend or family member develops mental health problems, he or she will never recover.
Fact: People with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.
You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don't even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.
Myth: I can't do anything for a person with a mental health problem.
Fact: Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get treatment and services they need by:
Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
Helping them access mental health services
Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn't true
Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or call them "crazy", "psycho", "insane", or "loony"
Seeing the person, not the disease
Unfortunately, due to economic stress, there is often a higher prevalence of mental health challenges with people living in or near the poverty level. However, if you or a family member lives in either Marion or Polk County and receive Oregon Health Plan benefits, we can help you find services. Call (503) 361-2778 to talk to one of our Access Coordinators who will find you a provider to meet your needs.
It's okay not to feel okay, so reach out to people in need, and if you or a family member are in need, reach out for help.