Hi everyone! My name is Adia Fadaei, and I am on BC2M’s Teen Advisory Board. As someone who is a high school student and passionate mental health advocate, I’ve come across so many misconceptions over the years regarding mental health. These can be extremely frustrating as they only increase the stigma surrounding mental health in our society, and so I wanted to address some of these to start the conversation.
MISCONCEPTION #1: Stress is the same thing as anxiety.
“That test just gave me anxiety”; “I have anxiety because you said that.” Statements like these are common especially among youth who do not know the difference between stress and anxiety. Many tend to flippantly throw around the term “anxiety” when they are really trying to convey that they are feeling stress. The same can be said about anxiety versus anxiousness. In a culture that does not properly differentiate stress from anxiety, we often need to be reminded of the difference between the two. While stress is temporary, normal, and can actually be a good thing, anxiety covers numerous amounts of anxiety disorders marked by unnaturally large/unhealthy amounts of stress/worry.
MISCONCEPTION #2: Your mental health only “matters” if you have a mental illness.
Just because one does not suffer from a mental health issue does not mean their mental health should be neglected. Many who do not struggle with a mental illness feel as if their struggles or stresses are unimportant because they do not have a disorder; however, this is not the case. Everyone should participate in self-care and should be looking out for their personal wellbeing. After all, you can not pour from an empty cup!
MISCONCEPTION #3: Reaching out for help is a sign of weakness.
Vulnerability is strength. Our culture perpetuates the narrative that it is weak to ask for help, and this misconception is something that can be a barrier for so many. It is not just an unhealthy belief; it’s completely false. Those struggling in their mental health need to reach out to trusted adults and professionals, so they can receive the help they deeply deserve!
The mental health world will always be met with misconceptions if we don’t begin to break these down and gently educate our communities. This is an encouragement from me to you that it’s imperative we start these conversations, so we can create a culture of care/compassion for those struggling!