Many harmful myths surround the subject of mental illness. It\u2019s important for us to learn the truth behind these myths \u2014\u00a0and have empathy for those suffering with mental illness.\nJack F. Cahalane, PhD, chief of Adult Mood and Anxiety Services at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC, sheds some light on these common misconceptions.\nLearn more about the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC. Call 412-624-2100.\nMyth: Cases of mental health problems are rare\nFact:\n\n20 percent of people in the United States have a mental health problem\n15 percent of men are depressed\n20 percent of women will experience an episode of major depression in their lifetime\n\nMyth: People with mental health disorders are more prone to violent behavior than others\nFact: This simply isn\u2019t true. In fact, it\u2019s more likely for people living with mental illness to be the victims of violent crime.\n\u201cWhen people see events in the news and hear that someone may have mental illness, they make that connection,\u201d says Dr. Cahalane. \u201cBut people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of crimes.\u201d\nFind help by calling the re:solve Crisis Network at 1-888-796-8226\nMyth: Personal weakness causes mental health disorders\nFact: \u201cMental illnesses are brain diseases \u2014 they\u2019re not weaknesses or character flaws,\u201d explains Dr. Cahalane.\nMental health issues are like other illnesses, except they\u2019re in the brain.\nMyth: People with mental health disorders can\u2019t hold a job\nFact: You come across people managing a mental health concern all the time in everyday life. Most people living with a mental health issue don\u2019t talk about it because of the stigma attached.\n\u201cMost people who experience a mental illness continue to function very well,\u201d adds Dr. Cahalane.\nMyth: Just think positive, and it\u2019ll go away\nFact: Mental illnesses such as depression rob a person of the ability to think positively about themselves and the future. Brushing aside that the illness is serious can have negative repercussions, says Dr. Calahane.\n\u201cI think there is a danger in saying to someone, \u2018You have this and that going for you, so just think positive.\u2019 Such comments imply that the person should be able to do that when they really can\u2019t.\u201d\nMyth: There\u2019s nothing you can do to help\nFact: It can be hard to think positively about yourself when dealing with a mental health issue. Half of those suffering from depression do not seek treatment.\n\u201cThat\u2019s why it\u2019s important to provide support and understanding. Educate yourself about the illness and encourage the person to seek treatment. Many people don\u2019t seek treatment because they\u2019re embarrassed or don\u2019t know who to see. Or they think it\u2019s a personal flaw and feel responsible for it,\u201d explains Dr. Cahalane.\nMental health disorders can be isolating. If the person doesn\u2019t feel comfortable talking to you, encourage them to talk with their family doctor or a trusted confidant.\nMyth: Children don\u2019t experience mental illness\nFact: Nearly one in five children have a mental illness.\n\u201cFor many people, mental health problems begin in childhood,\u201d explains Dr. Cahalane, \u201cso it\u2019s important for parents to recognize the warning signs.\u201d\nBehavioral changes to be aware of in children include:\n\nA drop in school grades\nSelf-isolation\nLoss of appetite\nInability to sleep\n\nMyth: Stress causes mental health breakdowns\nFact: This is true.\n\u201cStress can play a role in mental health,\u201d warns Dr. Cahalane. \u201cExperiencing a mental health issue can be very stressful for both the person and their family members.\u201d\nMyth: You should wait until it gets bad to seek treatment\nFact: You need immediate treatment if a mental health issue is negatively impacting your ability to function or enjoy everyday life. Mental illness doesn\u2019t just go away on its own. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to treat.