It’s great that the stigma around mental illness has lessened.
But in the name of acceptance, some individuals assume that mental illness is like acne…everyone has it just a little bit or at certain times in their life.
It’s truth that for many individuals, mental illness is not chronic. Still, according to the National Institute for Mental Health, only 6.7% of U.S. adults have had one major depressive episode. Only 2.3% have OCD in their lifetime, and only 6.8% have PTSD. Only 4.4% have bipolar disorder. Of course, many individuals don’t have healthcare access sufficient to warrant a diagnosis, and the numbers may be off for a number of reasons, but still, mental illness is hardly as common as acne.
And yet, it is common, and worryingly so, for people to diagnose themselves with these rare conditions or, worse, to trivialize it by characterizing their behaviors as symptoms. When we assume that mental illness is so common (1 in 4, says the headlines, but that number is largely based on predictive models), we assume that any quirks are due to mental illness.