Text Box: Diagnosis: Pros, Cons & the Law
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A mental illness that primarily requires medication to treat, also requires a diagnosis to justify why a prescription is needed.

 

A mental illness that requires hospitalization to treat, might also require a diagnosis to justify admission into psychiatric center.

 

A mental illness diagnosis is needed in order for an insurance company to justify payments to treatment providers.

 

A mental illness diagnosis is made based upon standard criteria that can be found and cross checked via credible sources: the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual2, the US government’s Department of Health and Human Services website1, and other reliable sources.

 

A mental illness diagnosis provides mental health professionals with a basis on which to develop a treatment plan that includes methods to decrease symptoms.

 

A mental illness diagnosis can provide clients with explanations for behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that otherwise seem odd, unique or strange. 

 

Universality, the feeling of having something in common with others, reduces the feeling of loneliness and it  may facilitate speedier recoveries26.

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A mental illness diagnosis can cause people to feel like something is wrong with them that cannot be changed.

 

A mental illness diagnosis could affect a child’s classification in the school setting, and lead the educational system to place youth into Exceptional Education Classes (or to recommend school counseling services).

 

A mental illness might require the use of medications that include serious risks and side effects.

 

A mental illness diagnosis could affect a person’s ability to get certain jobs—with the military, law enforcement, and some government entities for example.

 

A mental illness diagnosis could be wrong; sometimes many illnesses have symptoms that are common in several disorders; a second opinion might be needed.

 

If insurance is paying for mental health services, a diagnosis will be provided to the insurance company, and your treatment provider may have to release some of your mental health medical records to the company in order to obtain payment or to continue seeing you.

 

A mental illness diagnosis might be perceived as the justification for  many unacceptable behaviors—enabling someone to continue in certain patterns which may not necessarily be a part of the disorder.

 

Because the process of diagnosis is subjective, biased by cultural, social and gender differences, it “phallocentric” (man-centered) and inherently erroneous much of the time 25.  In short, it might simply be wrong.

The law indicates that if you have a clinical diagnosis, and you are under the care of a mental health provider, you have certain rights.  One of the legally mandated rights says, you have “the right to be given by the health care provider information concerning diagnosis, planned course of treatment, alternatives, risks, and prognosis.”

 

By law, your mental health provider must provide you with a copy of the “Patient’s Bill of Rights” and provide you with an avenue to file complaints, in cases where such rights may have been violated.

 

For a summary of the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights Click Here.

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