Before we go any further in this journey of mental health, let’s shed some light and debunk some of the common perceptions about mental illness.
Myth: As Black people, we don’t need therapy. Mental health is not OUR problem.
Truth: African Americans are 20% more likely to have serious psychological distress than Whites are. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for African Americans ages 15-24.
-National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
Myth: If I talk to a counselor, everyone will know my business.
Truth: Mental health professionals have an ethical duty to keep client’s information confidential, meaning your information cannot be disclosed unless we have your consent, *with very few exceptions. So no, your business will not be on the “street”, unless you decide to disclose your information.
Myth: Depression is a choice, all you have to do is cheer up and snap out of it! Truth: Check out this article: Depression Is Not a Choice
Myth: If I seek help, I'm weak. Truth: Everyday people go to therapy for everyday concerns. Seeking help actually shows greater strength. Because of the stigma that commonly keeps individuals silent, the fact that you stepped beyond the stigma and went to seek professional help is MAJOR! You exerted the strength to be well. It takes guts to invest in your mental health: GO YOU!
Myth: Mental illness does not run in my family. Truth: For some individuals, mental illness can be genetic. Just because you have not been able to notice, or family members have not been clinically diagnosed does not mean it cannot or does not run in your family. There is not, however, a clear distinction between how much mental illness is genetic and how much is influenced by environmental factors. Nevertheless, do your own research, notice the signs, ask the questions…. for them, yourself and future generations.*for more on that conversation check out our post “What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You ….?”
Myth: I talk to my family or friends about my problems, I’m good. Truth: The fact that you talk to your family and friends is AMAZING! But your support system cannot stop there. Professional help gives you access to an additional level of knowledge and evidence based tools that can catapult your growth and wellness. Sometimes our friends and family members don’t know what to say or do, but therapists may have the gems!
Myth: Therapy is not for men. Guys don’t talk about their feelings. Truth: FALSE! Males of all ages go to therapy. Whether it’s with their significant others, families or by themselves, they seek out help too! Do not get caught up in societal ideals of how males should act: tough and emotionally uninvolved. This is called toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity literally kills!
There are so many other myths, so let’s continue this conversation. Let me know some of the perceptions you have, have had or have heard from others. Let’s break down the stigma together.
I'm rooting for you, always. Diamond James, MSW, LCSWA