The MHS Journals

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What are Major Misconceptions About Mental Illness

Jul 12, 2021

Seeking help for a mental health disorder requires strength and bravery. Many misconceptions about mental illness still serve as barriers to getting help.

  • Consumers may believe that they can’t afford mental health counseling and services.
  • Many people feel ashamed to admit that they are struggling with a mental health condition.
  • Some consumers hesitate to seek help out of fear that others will learn of their mental health diagnosis.

The average person would never look askance at someone with cancer or heart disease, but people who have a mental illness often fail to seek treatment out of shame. Though great strides have been made in educating the public about the nature of mental illness, mental health stigmas still exist. Here are some of the major mental health myths.

Major Misconceptions About Mental Health

Mental health disorders are diagnosable and treatable, just like most physical illnesses. However, many people suffer in silence and never seek treatment until the condition gets so bad that they can’t function. Here are a few of the most common barriers that keep people from getting help with mental health conditions.

I Can’t Afford to See a Mental Health Professional.

Many people with mental health disorders think they can’t afford care because they don’t realize that it’s covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare, private insurance, and state Medicaid plans. However, even if you have coverage, you may still face some obstacles.

  • You may not have the money to pay out-of-pocket expenses such as copays and deductibles.
  • Your insurance may not cover any of the providers in your area, or the network might not include the specialized care sometimes needed for mental health disorders.
  • You may face administrative hurdles such as pre-certification, referrals from your primary care doctor, or diagnoses that don’t apply to every situation.
  • Your insurance may only pay for a few visits at extended intervals when you need long-term, intensive care.
  • You may have coverage for the professional services but not for the medication you need to manage your mental illness.

If you are facing these obstacles to getting care for a mental illness, you do have options. Many consumers are unaware that they have the right to appeal denials of coverage and ask for out-of-network payment of benefits if the insurance carrier doesn’t have the specialist you need on their preferred list.

If you don’t have any insurance, you still have some avenues to seek mental health counseling. If you are a student, most schools, from elementary grades through colleges, offer counseling via school staff or through an agency contracted to provide that care. This counseling is usually free or deeply discounted. Universities that offer degrees in mental health care may be another resource. Clinicians in training often see clients for free as a service to the community that also gives them service hours toward their degree.

If none of these options are available to you, look for a community health center that offers care on a sliding scale basis. Your local health department may be able to help you with a referral. Your primary care medical care provider may be able to connect you with free or low-cost services as well.

I’m Embarrassed to Let Anyone Know I Need Help

Many things contribute to the idea that mental illnesses are something about which you should be embarrassed.

  • Perhaps you feel that counseling is only for weak people who can’t function in the world as everyone else can. However, the opposite is true; it takes a strong person to step forward and ask for help with a mental illness. It takes a great deal of bravery to face traumatic events, personal struggles, and the pain they cause.
  • Many people with common mental health disorders think it means they are “crazy.” In truth, everyone faces mental health challenges from time to time, and most people can continue to function in their day-to-day lives. Being able to function doesn’t mean you don’t need help to live the kind of life you want.
  • You may be afraid that your family, friends, coworkers, and everyone else around you will know if you see a counselor. Remember that confidentiality ethics and laws bind mental health professionals to keep your services confidential, except in rare situations that could result in harm to yourself or someone else.
  • Some consumers feel that seeking help for a mental health problem will harm them in their careers. They don’t want employment or educational records to show that they received services. You can be confident that your counselor could only share your information with these parties if you grant permission in writing. No record of your services goes into your educational files.

I Don’t See How Talking to a Stranger Can Help.

Some people avoid getting mental health treatment because they don’t know what they should say in a therapy session. The good news is that you don’t have to know what to talk about ahead of time. Your counselor will lead you through a discussion of what you’d like to achieve through therapy. Clients learn a great deal about themselves through this process and gain insight into how to make changes. It’s important to note that going to counseling is different from talking to a friend. The counselor has professional therapeutic skills that help you stay focused on making the changes you want.

Where Can I Learn More?

At MHS DBT & Mental Health Services, we understand how hard it sometimes is to ask for help. Many clients feel immense social pressure to keep mental health problems a secret. The friendly and professional team at MHS can help you make those critical first steps through various services for adolescents and adults. Contact us today and start the journey to better mental health. You can also reach out by calling (952) 835-2002.

Featured Image: Srdjan Randjelovic/Shutterstock