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Myths & Causes

What is it?
Mental Illness includes a broad range of psychological or behavioural symptoms, which cause difficulties with an individual’s mental and emotional well-being, thereby reducing his or her capacity to cope with the demands and stress of daily life.

It is human nature to fear what we don’t understand. Since many people don’t understand mental illness, they fear it. Mental illness also carries a stigma (a mark or sign of disgrace), and that stigma prevents a significant number of people from seeking help. People use stigmatizing words like “cuckoo,” “psycho,” “wacko” and “nutso.” Just as we wouldn’t mock someone for having a physical illness, we should not mock someone with a mental illness. The following are examples of some myths and facts:

Myth: Mental illness is caused by a personal weakness.
Fact: A mental illness is not a character flaw. It is an illness having nothing to do with weakness or lack of will-power. People do not choose to become ill.

Myth: Those with a mental illness are violent.
Fact: Those with a mental illness are more often the victims of violence.

Myth: Schizophrenia is split-personality.
Fact: A person with Schizophrenia may have audible hallucinations such as “voices” talking to the individual.

Myth: A person with Depression can just “snap out of it”
Fact: Until the brain chemicals have been balanced or the precipitating factor has been resolved the individual will most likely continue to have the symptoms

Myth: You can’t recover from a mental illness
Fact: With proper treatment and support you can recover from a mental illness

Some information from “The Myths of Mental Illness,” CMHA National pamphlet series

There are thought to be three causes of mental illness:
1.    Genetic/Biological/Chemical
2.    Psychological
3.    Socio-cultural/Stressful life events or conditions



Socio-cultural/Stressful life events or conditions

Statistics for Kenora Rainy River Region
How many people are affected by mental illness?

Mental illness is increasingly recognized as a serious and growing problem. It is estimated that 1 in 5 Canadians, close to six million, will develop a mental illness at some time in their lives. Many more individuals such as family, friends and colleagues are also affected.

We can say for sure that at least one percent of a population is likely to have a serious and persistent mental illness at any given time. This is equal to about 300,000 Canadians at any given time. The rates of mental illness vary from one illness to another. For example, it is estimated that:

* 1990 Ontario Health Survey
** Region of Peel web site
**** The Report on Mental Illness in Canada, 2002
******The Portraits of Peel: Face the Facts

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