Restorations Therapy Blog

Recommendations for Describing Mental Health Disorders: People With Common Mental Health Disorders Help to Change the Language Surrounding Their Diagnosis

by on Thursday, April 9th, 2020

Recommendations for Describing Mental Health Disorders

In July 2019, a researcher and the World Health Organization (WHO) collaborated to conduct the first study seeking input from people with common mental health disorders. They asked these individuals to weigh in on how the diagnostic guidelines described their disorders.

Then researchers asked them to recommend changes to these descriptions.

The Study

Researchers from the United Kingdom, the United States, and the World Health Organization Department of Mental Health sought to improve access to treatment and lessen stigma by including individuals’ personal experiences with disorders in diagnostic manuals. The researchers utilized input from individuals with five common mental health disorders:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder Type 1
  • Depressive Episode
  • Personality Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

The researchers asked these individuals about how they describe their disorders, and how to portray those descriptions in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, also known as the ICD-11. ICD is the most commonly used classification system for mental disorders.

One hundred fifty-seven people diagnosed with the five previously mentioned mental health disorders participated in the survey and reviewed a first draft of the ICD-11, recommending changes that more precisely reflected their experiences. They also removed objectionable or judgmental language from the descriptions.   

The Results

Most participants indicated that the first draft neglected to insert the emotional and psychological experiences they commonly experienced. In fact, all five groups added to their descriptions. 

  • Individuals with schizophrenia made additional references to experiencing isolation, anger, fear, memory issues, and difficulty communicating their inner experiences. 
  • Those who live with bipolar disorder included anger, nausea, anxiety, and increased creativity. 
  • Individuals with GAD added anger and nausea. 
  • Participants with depression included anxiety and pain. 
  • Individuals with personality disorders included vulnerability to exploitation and distress.

Furthermore, participants suggested the removal of stigmatizing terms like “neuro-vegetative,” “disorganized,” “retardation,” and “maladaptive” from the ICD. 

Feeling Stigmatized and Hopeless?

The current draft of the ICD only reflects the external perspective of mental health disorders, disregarding the personal view of those people living with these illnesses. Utilizing common and relatable language will bridge the communication gap between patients and healthcare professionals.

Since mental health disorders are stigmatized and often co-occur with substance use disorders, researchers and clinicians must continue receiving direct input and knowledge from those suffering from these disorders. 

Looking for compassionate care? Located in Centennial, Colorado, Restorations Therapy works with individuals who are struggling with addiction, intimacy disorders, and trauma.

In order to offer patients a more holistic approach to care, Restorations Therapy offers individualized and group therapy, workshops, psycho-educational classes, and more to restore the harm brought on by addiction and intimacy issues. For more information, please call us today at (720) 446-6585.

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