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5 Myths About Mental Illness

According to the Center for Reintegration, there are 5 common myths about people living with mental illness.

Myth #1: Mental illness is the same as mental retardation.

The Facts: Mental illness and mental retardation are entirely different disorders. Mental retardation is primarily characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning, while intellectual functioning varies among persons with persistent mental illness just as it does across the general population.

Myth #2: Recovery from mental illness is impossible.

The Facts: While these illnesses are persistent, research has shown that with treatment, the majority of people with mental illnesses achieve genuine improvement in their symptoms over time and lead stable, productive lives. As the treatment of mental illness has advanced, the focus of treatment has shifted from simply minimizing symptoms to true recovery-that is, the reintegration into mainstream society, including (and perhaps most importantly) the world of work.

Myth #3: Mentally ill and mentally restored employees (that is, those in whom mental illness is effectively treated) tend to be second-rate workers.

The Facts: Far from being inferior workers, individuals with mental illnesses may in fact be superior in many ways to their co-workers without mental illness. Employers who have hired these individuals report that their attendance and punctuality exceed the norm, and that their motivation, work quality, and job tenure is as good as -- or better than -- that of other employees. Research has shown that there is no difference between the productivity of workers with and without mental illness.

Myth #4: People with psychotic disabilities cannot tolerate stress on the job.

The Facts: The response to job-related stress, and precisely which factors will be perceived as stressful, vary among individuals with psychiatric disabilities just as they do among people without such disabilities. For all workers -- with or without psychiatric disabilities -- productivity is optimized when there is a close match between the employee's needs and his or her working conditions.

Myth #5: Mentally ill and mentally restored individuals are unpredictable, potentially violent, and dangerous.

The Facts: This myth is reinforced by media portrayals of people with mental illnesses as frequently and randomly violent. However, a research literature review conducted at Cornell University found absolutely no evidence to support such portrayals. The fact is that the vast majority of individuals with psychiatric disabilities are neither dangerous nor violent. 


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