Mental health problems are not rare; in fact they are much more common than most people believe. Up to one in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem during the course of a year, taking up to between 10 and 20 per cent of GPs' time.
There is no divide between people with mental health problems and everyone else, so it could happen to you. Although there are some risk factors, from bereavement to genetics, mental ill health can affect anyone.
People with mental health problems are not a danger to the public. In fact they are much more likely to harm themselves than anyone else.
There are no more murders being committed by people with mental health problems. Despite sensational media coverage, the proportion of murders committed by people with mental health problems has in fact fallen steadily over the last fifty years.
Mental illness and learning disability are not the same thing. In fact they are completely different, as learning disabilities (e.g. Down's Syndrome) result from genetic or development factors, or damage to the brain, often at birth. Learning disabilities affect the person's IQ, usually permanently and usually cannot be controlled with treatment. However, mental health problems (e.g. depression and schizophrenia) often do not appear in childhood, are not a result of damage to the brain and not usually have a permanent effect on the IQ. It is possible to completely recover from mental health problems as many people do.
These problems are not self-inflicted, any more than physical illness is. People with depression have serious, persistent symptoms that they cannot change. If untreated, depression can have serious consequences: seventy per cent of people who commit suicide have experienced some form of depression.
With the correct treatment and support, most people get better, and many recover completely. Only a small number of conditions are untreatable, but there are many things that can be done to help people cope so that they may live as normal a life as possible.
It is not true that the behaviour and personality of people with schizophrenia swing dramatically between normal and dangerously disturbed. The correct term 'multiple personality disorder' is very rare and has nothing to do with schizophrenia.
Yes, there are signs and symptoms but you would hardly ever know from the outside that someone is experiencing a problem. Professionals can sometimes take a long to make a full diagnosis.
Around one in ten children and young people experience mental health problems severe enough to need professional help.