Mental health myths and facts

Myths and facts about mental health

The words 'myths' and 'facts' written on a blackboard

Myth: Mental health problems are very rare.

Fact: Up to 1 in 5 women develop mental health problems during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth. Low mood, anxiety and depression are common.

“I had my first baby at 22. All my friends were doing their master’s degrees, getting places on graduate schemes or travelling, and I was at home with a tiny baby. My partner worked long hours and I often felt quite lonely. Eventually, I went to the GP with my mum and was diagnosed with postnatal depression. They referred me for cognitive behavioural therapy, which really helped. I had my second baby recently, aged 29. I have felt a lot of similar feelings returning, but I have managed to keep these at bay with practical solutions such as attending baby groups, exercise, accessing online support and practicing mindfulness. I think the confidence in knowing that I have done this before has helped.”

Nicola

Myth: People with mental illness can’t work.

Fact: We probably all work with someone who has a mental health problem.

Myth: If you tell people about a mental health problem your baby will be taken away

Fact: . Healthcare professionals work really hard to support mums with mental health problems so they can look after their children. They do not want to take your baby away.

Myth: People with mental health problems are generally downtrodden

Fact: People from all walks of life have mental health problems.

Myth: Talking about mental health problems make it worse

Fact: The only way to get help is to talk  to someone you trust, such as your family and friends, as well as to health professionals.

“Everyone kept saying how excited I must be. I would say yes, but inside I felt sick. I didn’t feel excited I just felt a bit numb. I stopped wanting to do anything or speak to anyone. I just wanted to hide away from the world. My husband was away and I felt so lonely. I told my midwife how I was feeling when I was 16 weeks pregnant. She was amazing. She listened to me, asked me some questions and talked me through my options. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”

Ruth

Myth: If you’re not happy during pregnancy or after your baby is born, you are a bad parent.

Fact: This is not true. Many pregnant women and new mums feel ashamed or guilty about feeling low because they think they should be really happy now. But the reality is that mental health problems can affect anyone at any time. How you feel does not mean you are a bad parent.

Don’t hide your feelings or suffer in silence. You are not alone. Tell you partner, family or friends how you feel, as well as your GP and midwife. They will help you access the support you need.

Sources

The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (February 2017) Maternal Mental Health – Women’s Voices https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/information/maternalmental-healthwomens-voices.pdf

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Last reviewed on October 17th, 2018. Next review date October 17th, 2021.

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