Busting Common Mental Health Myths with Karyna Auletta.
Sure, you retweeted a couple of posts on mental health, and you reposted that banner on World Mental Health Day, but do you really know what mental health means?
Mental health has been getting a lot of attention in the media lately, something that Karyna Auletta, mental health therapist, and could not be happier about. However, on the flip side, she is worried that it is becoming a cliché: often repeated but carrying no real meaning whatsoever.
She has decided to do something about it and is now in the middle of planning a speaking tour where she will educate people on mental health and how to eradicate the stigma surrounding it.
But in the meantime, she shares her thoughts on mental health and debunks some common myths about it.
What is Mental Health?
When we talk about mental health, we refer to your cognitive, emotional, and behavioral well-being. It has to do with what and how you think, feel, and do the things you do.
Whether they believe it or not, every person has mental health, and just like physical wellbeing, mental wellness can affect your quality of life.
Common Myths about Mental Health
People are more receptive to and are paying more attention to their mental health than ever before. However, there are still some deeply rooted misconceptions about mental health. It is myths like these that Karyna hopes to debunk.
Therapy is a waste of time and money.
As a therapist herself and someone who has reaped enormous rewards from it, Karyna can testify to the potency of therapy. “Most people think therapy is just going to someone and telling your secrets,” she tells me. “While you can tell a therapist your secret, therapy is a process. Therapy is the learning and unlearning of yourself. It is scientific, and most importantly, it is fun.”
But what about those stories of people who visit multiple therapists but see no improvement in their conditions?
Karyna tacks it up to not finding the right therapist. Finding a therapist that’s right for you can be similar to dating, she says. Don’t give up on the first try if you don’t immediately match.”
People with mental health conditions cannot be productive.
Not many people know this, but Karyna has dealt with her fair share of mental health conditions. For most of her childhood, she struggled with a mental illness that left her barely able to function. It was hard to perform simple acts like opening a water bottle and being hugged caused immense pain. Her condition was undiagnosed for 13 years, and a lot of people misunderstood her. That, in turn, led to depression, self-harm, and anxiety that she would die at a young age.
Despite all that, today, Karyna is a successful, productive, and active member of society. She has worked as a mental health therapist for five years, and it goes to show that given proper treatment, people with mental illnesses can contribute to society.
Mental health conditions are permanent.
They are not. You can get better, Karyna did.
It will take time and effort. “It is hard work, and some people don’t anticipate that,” Karyna says. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can have a full recovery.
Only people with conditions need to take care of their mental health
Your mental health has an impact on your thoughts, feelings, and actions. However, this also works in reverse. Your thoughts, feelings, and actions impact your mental health, so you need to monitor them even if you do not have a mental health condition.
There is nothing you can do for people with mental illnesses
“The best thing you can do is be there for them,” Karyna says. Caring for them can make all the difference, just like it did for Karyna. She’d been to so many doctors who could not help her, and she was spiraling downwards until she found a doctor who “cared enough to get the help I needed.”
Mental health conditions are shameful.
“As a Hispanic woman, going to therapy is frowned upon.” But the stigma attached to mental health conditions is baseless and outdated. Karyna had to endure poor treatment because of her mental illness. However, her passion prevailed through the stigma, and she has made it her mission to help other people do the same.
Mental health conditions are not preventable.
They are, and you can protect yourself by monitoring what you feel, do, and think. You can spot negative thoughts, emotions, and feelings that could harm your mental health and make changes before they become severe.
If you want to live a fulfilling life, you must take your mental health just as seriously as you do your physical health.
“Therapy is for everyone,” Karyna says, “even therapists.”