Mental Health Myths

Given the growing number of students entering college with mental health disorders, it is likely that during the course of the academic year you will interact with one or more students who have a mental health disorder.  For this reason, it is important to dispel some common misconceptions*: 

*reprinted with permission from the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities

MYTH: Mental health conditions are something people choose to have.
It is important to know that mental health disorders are neither caused nor prolonged by any moral weakness. In addition, mental illness is not something that an individual can merely “snap out of” by choice.

MYTH: People with mental health disorders are likely to be violent and disruptive.
This myth is reinforced by the way people with mental health disorders are portrayed in the media. Data from scholarly research does not support this sensationalized picture of people with mental health disorders as being frequently and randomly violent. Research further indicates that students with mental health disorders are no more disruptive than other students.

However, should a student’s behavior seem threatening or be disruptive to class, it is important to remember that, like all U-M students, they are required to meet the University’s code of conduct. Therefore, it is appropriate to follow policy recommendations on handling these situations.

MYTH: People with mental health disorders cannot tolerate stress.
This myth oversimplifies the complex human response to stress. How different people view stress varies widely. Some people find unstructured schedules highly stressful, while others struggle with too much regimentation. Some people need solitude to focus and be productive, while others thrive on high levels of social contact and public visibility. Therefore, whether or not a mental health disorder is present, success in dealing with stress seems to depend more on how well an individual’s needs match his/her daily life circumstances.


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