Common myths about mental health1. You have a “mental illness” that is caused by a biochemical imbalance, or some kind of brain defect or brain disease, or by a genetic predisposition.
2. The medication we give you will correct your “biochemical imbalance.”
3. “Recovery from mental illness” does not mean cure. Recovery just means learning tohave a better life despite continuing to have the illness.
4. Mental health medications are proven to be effective and reasonably safe. When people who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness refuse medications, it is because they lack insight into their illness.
5. Because of your diagnosis, you will always have to take psychiatric medications.
6. If you have problems when you quit taking medications, this is proof you need to continue taking the medications.
7. If you really want to be healthy, you will take whatever medication your prescriber suggests, for the rest of your life.
8. If you do decide to get off medications, you cannot expect any help from your prescriber, whose job it is to keep you on your medications.
What you would hear if your mental health system told you the truth
1. This is all speculation. Science does not have proof of what causes mental and emotional
problems. There is no lab test for any of these conditions. Also, none of these theories are able
to explain how many people with mental and emotional problems recover completely.
2. Since no one knows if you have any “biochemical imbalance,” no one can promise to correct it!
3. There are varying degrees of recovery from mental and emotional problems. Some people
recover just enough to improve their life while mental and emotional problems continue. But
others go on to have a full recovery, and need no further mental health care.
4. The long term effectiveness of psychiatric medications has not been demonstrated in scientific
studies. Even in the short term, some psychiatric drugs may not be any more effective than
placebo. Many commonly used medications are quite dangerous, may potentially cause brain
damage, and are part of the reason people in the USA public mental health system are dying 25
years earlier than average. Proven non-drug options exist but are not widely offered.
5. For each diagnosis, there are people who have gotten off the medications, and then gone on
to have very successful lives.
6. Problems that arise upon quitting medications are often medication withdrawal effects, and
can be minimized by tapering down slowly. Also, if you have been relying on medications to solve emotional problems,
you may need to learn effective alternative solutions to these problems in order to accomplish a successful withdrawal.
7. It’s your choice. It is important not to stop taking medication before you are ready. But for at
least some people, getting off medication, even against a prescriber’s advice, may be the best
solution. For example, long term studies show high rates of recovery among people diagnosed
with “schizophrenia” who have gotten off medication successfully. Getting off medication can
mean avoiding long term health risks (including risks of early death) associated with many of the
8. Unless a court has taken your rights away, you have the right to decide to terminate any
given treatment. Since the mental health system got you started on medications, it also has a
responsibility to help you terminate that treatment as safely as possible if that is your choice.