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Wellness In the Workplace: 8 Mental Illness Myths

Oct 3, 2019 11:56:02 AM


As part of the annual Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), Smashing Boxes Director of Wellness, Anne Jordan, debunks 8 common myths. 

Mental illness is probably not something you discuss while chit-chatting with coworkers at the watercooler (aka Slack). Yet, with one in five U.S. adults experiencing mental illness each year, there’s no doubt that most of your coworkers--whether directly or indirectly--feel the impact of it. Raising awareness about mental illness is critical to mental health and well-being. This is the purpose of Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), which commences next week, October 6-12, 2019.

By the Numbers (NAMI):

  • Across the U.S. economy, serious mental illness causes $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • 1 in 25 U.S. adults experiences serious mental illness each year.
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.

Many people today understand that mental illness is a medical condition, yet myths continue to persist when it comes to mental health and well-being. The Mayo Clinic defines mental illness as a variety of disorders, ranging in severity, that affects one’s mood, thinking, and behavior. Well-publicized examples include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and addiction, each having a negative impact on one’s capacity to thrive.


Here are 8 misconceptions and myths about mental health disorders.

Myth 1: Mental illness is a single, rare disorder.

Reality: Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, addiction disorders, and impulse control disorders are different categories of very different mental illnesses; but all are a variation on the theme of brain chemistry gone awry.

Myth 2: Depression is a character flaw and people should just ‘snap out of it’.

Reality: Research shows that depression has nothing to do with being lazy or weak. It results from changes in brain chemistry or brain function.

 Myth 3: People with mental health disorders are dangerous and should be locked away.

Reality: Most who have a mental illness struggle with depression and anxiety. They have normal lives but their feelings and behaviors negatively affect their day-to-day activities.

 Myth 4: All people with Schizophrenia are violent.

Reality: Very little violence in society is caused by people who are mentally ill. People with a major mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.

 Myth 5: Addiction is a lifestyle choice and shows a lack of willpower.

Reality: Addictions involve complex factors including genetics, the environment, and sometimes other underlying psychiatric conditions such as depression. 

Myth 6: People with mental illness lack intelligence.

Reality: Intelligence has nothing to do with mental illnesses or brain disorders.

Myth 7: People with mental health disorders shouldn’t work because they’ll just drag down the rest of the staff.

Reality: People with mental illness can and do function well in the workplace, just like a person with diabetes or heart disease. Treatment is key.

Myth #8: People with a mental illness never get better.



With one in four people affected by mental health disorders at some point in their lives, many people are turning to yoga and mental health retreats as an effective strategy to help protect and restore mental health. As yoga becomes more accepted and practiced to support mental health disorders, we hope more research will be published to guide those interested in yoga and mindfulness. This is just the beginning.


Helpful Resources

What to Do In a Crisis

  • Call the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (Monday-Friday, 10 AM - 6 PM EST)
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Smashing Boxes prioritizes the health and well-being of our employees and their families, making available opportunities for a flexible schedule, generous leave policies, weekly in-office yoga classes, mindfulness resources, and a focus on a work-life balance. Learn more about working at Smashing Boxes.


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Smashing Boxes is a creative technology lab that partners with clients, taking an integrated approach to solving complex business problems. We fuse strategy, design, and engineering with a steady dose of entrepreneurial acumen and just the right amount of disruptive zeal. Simply put, no matter what we do, we strive to do it boldly. Read client reviews from satisfied clients and partners. 

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Topics: Community, health and wellness, mentall illness awareness week, Culture

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