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Six myths about mental health

Mental health is a difficult concept to nail down. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines it as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his/her community.”

At some point, most of us will have fallen short in one or more of those.

We caught up with Dr Padmaraju Varrey, head of the psychiatry department at NMC Specialty Hospital in Abu Dhabi for some clarification – and to dispel some of the more common myths about mental health that are especially prevalent in this region.


Myth 1

Mental health problems are rare.

TRUTH: Problems regarding mental health are common across all age groups, cultures, genders and religions. Dr Padmaraju says, “Especially in this part of the world, cultural differences and adaptation problems cause anxiety, depression, phobia – all common among expats.”

Myth 2

Your kids are too young to have any mental health issues.

TRUTH: According to WHO, about 50 percent of all mental disorders begin before the age of 14 and similar types of disorders are being reported across cultures. “No age group is immune to mental health issues. Right from birth, a number of circumstances can affect a child’s mental health. Young kids often face separation anxiety, adjustment difficulties and learning disabilities.”

Myth 3

I won’t get a job if I’m diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

TRUTH: “Before, the stigma attached with mental health did make this true. But this isn’t the case now. We have patients from all walks of life, with all kinds of struggles. This is very specific to the kind of job and the mental health issue one has.”

Myth 4 

Mental health issues make people violent.

TRUTH: Dr Padmaraju says, “This is true only in extreme cases. Extreme depression may lead to self- harm and undiagnosed or untreated schizophrenics may be a danger to society and themselves. These can easily be managed with medication and treatment. Violence is not common to all people with mental health issues.”

Myth 5 

People will think I’m crazy if I admit that I need help.

TRUTH: “Most people have this misconception. They think that seeking help is a sign of weakness but that’s not true. Like the definition by WHO, good mental health is vital for the overall well-being of an individual.”




American Center for Psychiatry and Neurology

Contact: 02 697 9999

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in Abu Dhabi


NMC Specialty Hospital

Contact: 02 633 2255

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City’s Behavioural Science Pavilion

Contact: 02 819 4050




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