FICTION: Behavioral health challenges can’t affect me.
FACT: Behavioral health challenges can affect anyone. They strike people of all ages, races and income levels, whether or not there is a family history of behavioral health challenge.
FICTION: A behavioral health challenge is the same as mental retardation.
FACT: These are different conditions. Mental retardation is characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and difficulties with certain daily living skills. In contrast, people with behavioral health challenges—health conditions that cause changes in a person’s thinking, mood, and behavior—have varied intellectual functioning, just like the general population.
FICTION: Once people develop behavioral health challenges, they will never recover.
FACT: Studies show that most people with behavioral health challenges get better. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. Science has shown that hope plays an integral role in an individual’s recovery.
FICTION: People with a behavioral health challenge are often violent.
FACT: People with a behavioral health challenge are much more likely to be victims of violence than its cause. With proper treatment, people with a behavioral health challenge are no more likely to be violent than the general population.
FICTION: People with mental health needs, even those who have recovered, tend to be second-rate workers.
FACT: Employers who have hired people with behavioral health challenges report good attendance, punctuality, motivation, and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees.
FICTION: Children don’t suffer from behavioral health challenge.
FACT: Millions of children are affected by depression, anxiety and other behavioral health challenges. Getting prompt treatment is essential.
FICTION: Children misbehave or fail in school just to get attention.
FACT: Behavior problems can be symptoms of emotional, behavioral, or mental problems, rather than merely attention-seeking devices. These children can succeed in school with appropriate understanding, attention, and mental health services.
FICTION: I can’t do anything for a person with a behavioral health challenge.
FACT: You can do a lot, starting with how you act and speak. You can create an environment that builds on people’s strengths and promotes understanding. For example: Don’t label people with words. Don’t say “a schizophrenic person,” say “a person with schizophrenia.” This is called “people-first” language, and it’s important to make a distinction between the person and the illness. Learn the facts about mental health and share them with others, especially if you hear something that isn’t true.
Treat people with behavioral health challenges with respect and dignity, just as you would anybody else.
Respect the rights of people with behavioral health challenges and don’t discriminate against them when it comes to housing, employment, or education. Like other people with disabilities, people with behavioral health challenges are protected under federal and state laws.