3Understanding mental health from page 21 an acute eating disorder will need to work with a clinician who specializes in that area. In the same sense, only a subset of therapists have the training required to treat personality disorders through dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). This is an important issue to understand, and just as not all physical medicine doctors are created equal, neither are mental health practitioners. This amplifies the importance of creating a non-stigmatizing and balanced understanding of mental illnesses. There is also a general naiveté about mental illness in particular that perpetuates a negative stigma and discourages open conversations. The health care community is responsible for increasing education on the topic and helping make it a more comfortable and safe topic to discuss.
Diagnostic criteria An attribute of the mental health field that can cause complications is the relative subjectivity of the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5. While designed to allow for consistency, overall impressions of an individual’s functioning and reported significance of symptoms is subject to the interpretation of that particular professional. Interpretations of an individual’s body language, verbiage, hyperbolism, transference, and the overall relationship may influence a clinician’s diagnosis. In many cases, health care providers can rely on certain lab tests, X-rays, and scans to accurately and consistently diagnose medical conditions, and then follow evidence-based treatment protocols. Unfortunately, there are no reliable lab tests to diagnose mental illnesses such as DNA testing or lab draws. We can measure certain
hormone levels and neurochemicals that can contribute to a diagnostician’s evaluation. Ultimately, we rely on continual assessment, collaboration with providers, and patient education to monitor conditions and the effectiveness of treatments. There is a vast amount of data compiled from studies proving the efficacy and therefore creating evidence-based protocols for most mental illnesses. Creating a non-judging and healthier understanding of mental health and reducing the stigma associated with mental illnesses will allow people to connect with clinicians to get the support they need.
Conclusion The subject of mental health is far too broad to address in a single article or discussion. It is similar to asking a general physician to address general physical health in a single article or discussion. Both mental health and physical health have significant overlap and include one another. The promising news is that while mental health needs can be complicated and diverse, there are well-trained and wonderful practitioners in the field. As a society we have made significant progress in decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. We should encourage individuals to be open and transparent about their understanding of the topic, and help educate the public on the full spectrum of mental health (illness to wellness). Todd Archbold, LSW, MBA, is a licensed social worker and the chief operating officer at PrairieCare and PrairieCare Medical Group. Send your questions to email@example.com.
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OCTOBER 2017 MINNESOTA PHYSICIAN
Published on Oct 25, 2017
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