Importance of a Diagnosis

When a client goes to a mental health provider, they may often wonder if they will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. For some people, a diagnosis can make them feel better because it provides an explanation for their suffering, while others may be concerned about the stigma and impact of a particular diagnosis. It's important to remember that for mental health professionals, a diagnosis is a tool to ensure the next steps for treatment are effective for the client. It is also a way for providers to communicate with one another in the event of the need for a referral or collaboration.

Having a diagnosis can be empowering. Identifying areas for growth, and underlying resilience to support that growth, sets up the path for what comes next. A diagnosis allows mental health providers to accurately refer a patient elsewhere for medication or for more effective treatment. For students, diagnoses offer proper accommodations in classroom settings that will create a better learning environment. Additionally, having a diagnosis can help parents better understand their child’s behaviors instead of assuming their child is just willfully being difficult.

Some people may have negative associations with a mental health disorder diagnosis. For instance, a diagnosis can cause some people to overthink their mental health disorder as a label. Some people may feel anxious at the thought of being diagnosed with something. It’s important to know that you are not your disorder. There might even be a fear of judgment for having a diagnosis. A diagnosis can be overwhelming, but no one should feel ashamed of a mental health diagnosis any more than they would with a medical diagnosis. A diagnosis is simply a constellation of symptoms that explain what is happening with someone, just like symptoms explain a stomach ulcer. Yes, there may be behavioral changes that contribute to some symptoms getting better or worse, but there are also biological and situational factors that contribute to a mental health diagnosis.

People are not their mental health disorders any more than they are their medical conditions. The most important thing in your mental health journey is getting the proper treatment to lead a happy and functional life. Diagnoses help mental health professionals ensure they understand what is happening to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Watch Dr. Katrina and Dr. Samantha discuss the importance of a diagnosis in the field of mental health!

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