Crazies, insane, whack job, head case, wacko, and psycho are just a few of the horribly unkind words used to describe someone with a mental illness.

October 10 is World Mental Health Day, designed to raise awareness about mental health issues. As I've written about in previous blogs concerning my son's battle with Borderline Personality Disorder, I've personally discovered that when the subject of mental illness is brought up in conversation, the moment usually becomes awkward. Unless you're speaking with an individual who has a loved one or a valued friend with a mental issue, the others around you will usually begin to look uncomfortable and disinterested.

My wife, Mindy, spent the first seven years of her nursing career as a Psychiatric Nurse, which is one of the most intense nursing specialties offered. After speaking with her and checking the National Alliance on Mental Illness website, here are five myths about mental illness that need to be debunked:

1. Mental Ilness is the Result of Bad Parenting - Research shows that one out of five children between the ages of 13 and 18 have or will have a mental illness. Environmental factors and biological factors can both affect a person's mental health. As Mindy says from time to time, "We didn't wake up every morning trying to figure out different ways we could F-Up our son's life!"

2. People Are Faking it or Doing it for Attention - Trust me, after seeing what EJ has gone through, absolutely no one would choose to have a mental illness. Just like nobody would choose to have cancer.

3. You're Just Sad, You're Not Really Depressed - Individuals who are depressed or have Bi-Polar Disorder, or any psychiatric illness, can't just turn it on and off at will. Someone with a mental illness has a brain that's wired differently than someone who doesn't.

4. People with Mental Health Conditions are Violent and Dangerous - The truth is that living with a mental health condition makes you more likely to be a victim of violence.

5. You Can't Help Someone with a Mental Illness - You sure as hell can! Everyone can help those living with a mental illness by speaking and acting in a way that preserves their personal dignity. A good start is to avoid using words like psycho, crazy, or insane. Respect and dignity is the way to go.

For all the myths regarding mental illness, go to nami.org.