August 28, 2017

Mental Health Matters – Separating Fact from Fiction

Dramatic scenes from popular movies may have slanted our views on mental health. Britt Peterson, MD, MPH, DFAPA, a psychiatrist with Mission Psychiatric Services and the Fresh Start Behavioral Health Program of Transylvania Regional Hospital, takes a closer look at the facts.

  • Myth – Mental illness is not a real medical problem; it’s a personal weakness.
    • Fact – Genetics, environment, life events and other stresses can affect brain activity that influences our mood, thinking and ability to function. Mental health is complex, and recovery often requires more than positive thinking. Professional help can lead to finding effective therapies to improve brain function and quality of life. Asking for help shows strength, not weakness.
  • Myth – There is no connection between my physical and mental health.
    • Fact – People with mental illness have higher rates of chronic diseases like chronic pain, heart disease and diabetes. On the flip side, studies show improved mental health leads to better management of physical health conditions. As US Surgeon General David Satcher once said, “There is no health without mental health.”
  • Myth – People with mental illness are all “crazy” and get forced treatment.
    • Fact – Numerous mental illnesses affect millions of Americans differently including anxiety, mood, eating and substance use disorders, or ADHD. Treatments usually range from talk and behavioral therapy to medications. Hospital treatment, especially against someone’s will, is rare and occurs only when someone is in immediate danger because of severe mental illness.
  • Myth – Mental illness is common for older adults, but not for children and teens.
    • Fact – Many mental illnesses in adults begin in childhood or adolescence. About 20 percent of children have mental health problems. While mood changes and intense emotions are normal, problems functioning can point to the onset of a mental health condition. Mental health is complex. It’s important to be your own advocate for your overall well-being.

Britt Peterson, MD, MPH, DFAPA, is a psychiatrist with Mission Psychiatric Services and the Fresh Start Behavioral Health Program of Transylvania Regional Hospital. 

For more information about the Fresh Start Program of Transylvania Regional Hospital, call (828) 862-6393.


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