Benefits of Mental Health Diagnosis
Receiving an official mental health diagnosis has the potential to stir up a whirlwind of emotions for many individuals who have begun the process of facing their inner demons. Approximately 1 in 5 adults, or about 43.8 million people, experience a mental illness in any given year.
However, while there is significance and power in putting a name to our experience when using a diagnostic label, this power needs to be respected. Mental health diagnosis should be given only with an accurate assessment and used for a client’s best interest. When completed appropriately, there can be many benefits for having a diagnosis, such as validating suffering, assisting individuals in accessing appropriate treatment and deepening one’s self-understanding.
Many therapists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM, as the professional tool for proper diagnosis and treatment. The DSM provides a standard of what criteria need to be met to warrant a diagnosis and provides guidelines to differentiate between mental health conditions. While it has gone through a number of revisions, the currently accepted version is the DSM-5.
The DSM has also helped further research in the mental health field by classifying disorders and symptoms experienced by individuals in order to discover effective treatments. Overall, it is used by medical professionals and counselors alike as a guidebook for better understanding their clients.
When someone has been diagnosed through the DSM there are many potential benefits for treatment and recovery.
A diagnosis can be used as information to learn about oneself and in building wellness practices. Being understood is often the first step needed for people to feel hopeful about their condition, and so often this hope is delivered through the labeling of their illness as a treatable problem. When one’s diagnosis is directing treatment, a therapist is able to use evidence based practices, which are well-researched, and proven to be helpful for a certain set of symptoms. Thus, using a diagnosis-informed treatment approach can help improve effectiveness of results.
In addition to this, a diagnosis can help advocate that treatment is medically necessary and should be reimbursed by insurance, helping alleviate the financial burden on individuals.
Knowledge of a particular diagnosis can assist as well in accessing referrals for other providers, such as receiving appropriate medications or receiving educational consulting or vocational assistance to help make needed changes.
Also, having a diagnosis can help build community by joining support groups of people who may be suffering from the same conditions.
When screened for a mental health disorder, a client should feel as though they have input and that the information they share is taken into account. A therapist should ask probing questions, consider environmental circumstances, physical health, and external stresses when diagnosing.
When speaking with a mental health provider, it is important that you feel comfortable, and fully understand the diagnosis that they provide. It is important to speak up, especially if you are feeling rushed, don’t fully understand, or disagree.
Overall, diagnosis of mental health disorders should be a tool to help people to feel understood, understand themselves, and to better position themselves in recovery. Being diagnosed with a mental illness does not mean “I am Depression”, but instead “I am someone who struggles with depression”.
At Launch Centers, we believe that having a formal mental illness diagnosis should not be used to label a person, but rather to empower them to get the help they need.