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mental health misinformation

The Dangers of Mental Health Misinformation

The public conversation about mental health is more open than ever before, which can encourage people to explore resources and research answers independently. But the torrent of available content can make it difficult to separate fact from fiction.

While the internet has accelerated the spread of information, you can’t trust everything you read online to be accurate. According to a study from Pew Research Center, Americans who rely primarily on social media for news tend to be less informed than those who get information from other sources, such as radio and TV. People who lack critical thinking skills and healthy skepticism are also more vulnerable to inaccuracies, rumors and conspiracy theories.

Here is the reality behind some of the most prevalent misconceptions about mental health.

Myth: Self-Diagnosis Is Easy and Appropriate

Mental health misinformation is especially rampant on platforms like TikTok, where people share information about diagnoses like schizophrenia, OCD and borderline personality disorder. Though brief videos can’t paint an accurate picture of these conditions’ complexity, they have still led many people to self-diagnose instead of seeking a professional assessment from a health care specialist.

There has been a well-documented increase in anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders in recent years. Still, people who only do research online may start believing they have various conditions without taking time to research and fully understand what it’s like to live with them. As a result, they may use unhealthy tactics to manage their mental health.

Myth: People With Mental Health Problems Are Violent or Dangerous

Mental illness can happen to everyone, and most people with mental health conditions are not violent. Indeed, severe mental illnesses can make it more likely that people will be victims of violent acts.

Myth: Mental Illness Prevents People From Working

Mental health diagnoses do not necessarily keep people from being productive members of the community. If employers accommodate their needs, they can be punctual, motivated and complete tasks on par with or better than other workers.

Myth: Mental Illness Is a Weakness

Mental illness is a genuine health concern that can happen to anyone, regardless of their values, backgrounds or beliefs. It has nothing to do with being lazy or weak, and people need treatment to get past it. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including genetics, the environment, trauma and adverse childhood experiences. With a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes, mentally ill people can manage their symptoms, and many go on to make a full recovery.

How to Shield Yourself From Mental Health Misinformation

Awareness is critical for staying informed without falling for falsehoods and hoaxes. Do not automatically believe everything you read online or see on TV. Instead, ask yourself:

  • Is this information coming from a legitimate news organization or a credible website?
  • Can you verify it from multiple sources?
  • Could anyone else benefit from convincing you to believe something that isn’t true?

If you’re worried about your mental health, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs isn’t the answer. Instead, you can learn strategies for protecting your well-being in individual or group therapy. 

Life-Changing Amenities and Experiences

At Vista Taos, we offer a fully transformative experience that addresses our residents’ mental, physical and spiritual needs. We’ve created a conducive environment for healing, with amenities that include massage, yoga, meditation and delicious chef-prepared meals. Our offerings include medical detox, residential treatment, extended care and an alumni program. To learn more about starting your recovery here, reach out to us today.

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