The Counseling Archives: Harmful Myths Revolving Around Mental Illness


Debunking common myths related to mental health problems are encountered during counseling. The things you hear during counseling about assumptions on psychological illness will surprise and worry you.

It’s quite startling and disheartening that in this modern age, people still believe in myths concerning mental illnesses. At this point, the majority are expected to be at least oriented about the existence of mental health issues regardless of location or race.

Mental illness is real, and it affects everybody in some random way. However, there are still a lot of negative attitudes towards mental health issues that fuel discrimination and stigma, making it harder for people to reach out and subject themselves to counseling, and for therapists to efficiently promote healing.


Exposing Mental Health Myths

To completely eradicate unsubstantial and problematic beliefs regarding issues on psychological well-being, here are three of the most common myths that people until now still believe.

On the low end are individuals afflicted with severe and persistent mental illness like schizophrenia in which life experiences tend to be profoundly and concretely limited. On the opposite end are individuals known as the worried well – high functioning individuals who possess an acute awareness of consistent though tolerable difficulties. — Jeremy Clyman Psy.D.

  1. Psychological Illness Is Not Real

Mental illness is as real as cancer or the flu or whatever physical condition that you can think of. Until this day, there are still those who believe that mental health problems are just a “state of mind” which people can easily “get over.” Mental illnesses, if not addressed appropriately, create distress and don’t immediately disappear when someone utters the magic words, “shrug it off.”

The pain felt in certain parts of the body will not quickly subside without proper treatment, and no matter how many rituals or chants you’ve done to call out your gods for a reprieve, physical manifestations don’t go away. This is precisely the same with mental illness.

  1. Mentally Ill Individuals Are Dangerous

No thanks to inaccurate media portrayals, other people see mentally ill persons as violent and potentially dangerous. A lot of people are intolerant of mental illness due to what they see on their screens. Prediction of violence is mostly overrated that whenever someone is recognized as mentally ill, the first thing that comes to mind is intensity and assault. Though the previous attacks seen in the news are committed by personalities who were diagnosed with a specific psychological illness, the scope and nature of violence are more complicated and is not entirely linked with mental issues.

Sadly, there are some mental health professionals who still advocate for the removal or mental/emotional amputation of certain human aspects because they are destructive or self-destructive. — Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC

Mental illness and violence are not exclusive; in fact, researchers disagree that mental illness is a definitive predictor for doing violent acts. Looking at a particular psychological illness, it is concluded that people who struggle with mental illness are no more violent than those without mental illness. Countless reports excluding mentally ill people from certain communities are in itself, already an act of violence; unfortunately, people who suffer from mental diseases are the ones who are usually excluded. Furthermore, it is also essential to note that those who struggle with mental illnesses are more likely to become victims of violence rather than being the purveyors of violence.

  1. There Is No Escape From Mental Illness

Here’s some good news for you non-believers. People do and can recover from psychological conditions. In the advent of modern medicine, different kinds of effective psychotherapeutic treatments, medications, and services are materializing. By now, people should be aware that with proper psychological care, individuals who are mentally ill can survive their condition and go back living their lives productively and healthily.

The benevolent view would be that there will be more access to treatment for everyone. A more cynical view suggests an increase in pathologizing normal experience (e.g., converting shyness into social anxiety disorder) . — Bruce Poulsen Ph.D.


People have this habit of immediately jumping to conclusions without prior research or proper information-gathering. Though it may take some time and more convincing for the majority to take mental health seriously, changing behaviors and perception can be possible.