Mental health myths can be countered
June 13, 2004
by Hap LeCrone (Cox News Service)

Myth 1: Emotional problems are a sign of weakness, lack of self-discipline, lack of religious conviction or lowered intelligence.
Fact: Most emotional problems are the result of a combination of causes, which are often complex. Usually these problems develop over a period of months or years.

Myth 2: Once a person has developed emotional difficulties, he or she will never be free from these problems.
Fact: The goals of most mental-health professionals are to develop self-sufficiency and give people the confidence to cope with the stresses and pressures of life. Although not usually accomplished overnight, many problems confronting the mental-health professional can be treated in weeks or months. Some emotional problems may require lifelong medication.

Myth 3: Professional counseling and therapy for emotional problems are far more expensive than other forms of health care, and any kind of doctor can perform this service.
Fact: Mental-health professionals are trained specialists like other health-care professionals. The specific therapies needed for the treatment of emotional disorders are learned in specialized training programs. The cost per unit of time for most mental-health problems is no more expensive than other forms of health-care treatment, and in many cases less expensive.

Myth 4: People with emotional problems are not often able to work or shoulder responsibility.
Fact: Current medical and psychological therapies enable those suffering from emotional problems assistance in many areas of their lives, including the ability to work and assume responsibility.

Hap LeCrone is a clinical psychologist in Waco, Texas.