- Info & Support
- Current: Myths & Facts about Mental Illness
If you need to speak to someone right now, here are some confidential options which provide 24/7 support. If you're worried you might hurt yourself or someone else, please call 999, or go to your nearest A and E.
For people who are experiencing distress or despair.0808 808 8000
Helps anyone under 19 in the UK with any issue they’re going through. Childline is free, confidential and available any time, day or night.0800 1111
There are lots of misunderstandings about mental illness. Here are some of the most common myths – and the real facts behind them.
Mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of who you are or where you come from.
This isn’t true. Most people with mental health problems are not violent and most people who are violent are not mentally ill.
People with mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violence. People with severe mental illness are more likely to harm themselves than other people.
Chemicals in the brain might be part of the reason why some of us have a mental illness – but the evidence to support this is not very strong. Have a look at our information on what causes mental illness.
Having a mental illness is not our fault. We can do things to look after our mental health. But sometimes we just get ill, or something happens to us that makes our mental health worse.
It’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, mental illness is a common human experience.
Nearly a third of us have had concerns about our mental health in the last year.
Most of us need some kind of support to recover. We might find professional support like talking therapies helpful. Some of us find we need medication. Most of us find a combination of treatment and self-care can help us feel better.
If a family member or friend has a mental illness we might feel worried or unsure about how we can help them. We might feel that there is nothing we can do to help. But there are lots of things you can do that will make a big difference. Have a look at our information about supporting someone else.
There are lots of reasons why we might talk about mental illness. Talking can:
* help us share ideas about what we can do to feel better,
* make us feel less alone,
* help us get support from people around us,
* show other people that it’s ok to have a mental illness and to ask for help.
It isn’t always easy to find the words to talk about how we feel. Some of us find it easier to talk online rather than face-to-face.
Lots of us recover from mental illness. But recovery means different things to different people. Some of us think about recovery in terms of no longer having medical symptoms. Other people think that recovery is more about feeling able to live a meaningful life.
This isn’t true. People with schizophrenia do not have multiple or split personalities. Read more about schizophrenia.
People self-harm for lots of different reasons. We may use self-harm to cope with difficult or upsetting feelings. Some of us may use self-harm partly as a way of telling other people how bad we feel. We may be looking for attention and support because we need help. Other’s will self harm in private and don’t want anyone to know.
Some of us worry that asking someone if they are suicidal might put the idea in their heads or encourage them. But research shows that asking direct questions and talking openly about suicide will make the person less likely to act on their feelings. Read more about supporting someone who feels suicidal here.
Anyone can be affected by an eating disorder. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what gender you are or how much you weigh.