Welcome to Mental Health Matters, a new regular feature of Tallahassee Grapevine that will feature stories and tips on issues relating to mental health, from the staff of Apalachee Center. I’m excited to be starting this new conversation with some observations on mental health issues that you may not have known. There are a lot of misconceptions about mental health issues, and some of these misconceptions can stop people from getting the treatment they need.
Myth Number 1: Very few people have experienced mental health problems.
Fact: Most experts estimate that up to 25% of people will experience some form of mental health problem in their life. Most often, these are mood or anxiety problems, often brought on by a combination of inherited vulnerability and stressful life circumstances or transitions such as job loss, divorce, or bereavement.
Myth Number 2: Mental illness is all in your mind.
Fact: This is a very prevalent and misleading misconception. In fact, researchers have demonstrated that most psychiatric illnesses have clear physical markers (usually showing up on neuro-imaging and brain scan technology), and that individuals in acute phases of these illnesses also suffer from a wide range of physical symptoms. Experts agree: Mental illness is a curable brain disease.
Myth Number 3: There is no cure for mental illness.
Fact: The recovery rates for all mental illness, including severe forms of these illnesses, are as good or better than those for many physical illnesses. The National Institute of Mental Health, in 1993, found that 80% of individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder were able to achieve full remission of symptoms with proper treatment.
Myth Number 4: People with mental illness are dangerous
Fact: In fact, a 2006 study published in the prestigious American Journal of Psychiatry showed that only 5% of all violent crimes were committed by individuals with psychotic disorders.
Myth Number 5: No help is available for individuals with mental health problems
Fact: Although funding for mental health services in Florida ranks last among the 50 states, Leon County still has a number of resources for children, families and individuals experiencing mental health issues. Big Bend 2-1-1 has listings of all area agencies dealing with these issues. Apalachee Center can be reached at 1-800-342-0774 for Detox, Crisis or inpatient treatment, and 1-866-472-3941 to schedule an outpatient appointment.