Dispelling myths about mental health can help break the stigma and create a culture that encourages people of any age to seek support when they need it. Here are some common misconceptions about mental health.

Myth: Poor mental health is not a big issue for teenagers. They just have mood swings caused by hormonal fluctuations and act out due to a desire for attention.

Fact: It is a normal part of development for teens to experience a wide range of emotions but that is not the same thing as a mental health disorder. It is a misconception that disorders related to mental health only target adults. In fact, an estimated 49% of adolescents have had a mental health disorder at some point in their lives*. 

Myth: A mental health condition is a sign of weakness; if the person were stronger, they would not have this condition.

Fact: A mental health condition has nothing to do with being weak or lacking willpower. It is not a condition people choose to have or not have. In fact, recognizing the need to accept help for a mental health condition requires great strength and courage. Anyone can develop a mental health condition.

Myth: Adolescents who get good grades and have a lot of friends will not have mental health conditions because everything is going great in their lives.

Fact: Young people doing well in school may feel pressure to succeed, which can cause anxiety, or they may have challenges at home. They may also experience depression or anxiety for no reason that can be easily identified.

Myth: Kids only get a mental illness because they have bad parents.

Fact:  Mental illness is not caused by doing something wrong. Also, you can’t cause someone else to have a mental illness. Doctors think that mental illness is caused by a mix of what’s going on in your body and what’s happening around you.

Myth:  When people have mental illnesses, they will never get better.

Fact: People diagnosed with mental illnesses can get better. Every illness is different. Some people feel better when they talk to someone, like a friend or a doctor, or take medication. Most people need help from friends and family to talk and figure out how to live with their illness. Not all people have to take medicine or see a therapist for the rest of their lives.

*US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Mental Health (2021). Mental Illness