Words have an incredible power to define how we see ourselves and how others see us. So what happens when we get a mental health diagnosis. Are we forever labelled?
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. According to Mind, 5.9% of people in the UK will experience Generalised Anxiety Disorder each year, 3.3% will experience Depression each year, and 2% will experience Bipolar Disorder during their lifetime.
By 2030, it is estimated that there will be approximately two million more adults in the UK with mental health problems than there were in 2013 (Mental Health Network, 2016).
So, the number of people being diagnosed with mental health disorders is steadily rising. But does this mean that mental illness is on the rise, or that people are more readily coming forward for help?
How do you get Diagnosed?
If you feel like you may be having trouble with your mental well-being, the first place to go should be your GP. There are many problems that your GP will be able to diagnose, such as Anxiety and Depression. They may wish to see you more than once before making a diagnosis.
However, for more serious mental health conditions, your GP would refer you to a specialist in the mental health field such as a psychiatrist for a diagnosis. The psychiatrist may want to see you for a few sessions before making a diagnosis in order to be sure that it is the correct one.
The downsides of being diagnosed with a mental health disorder include stigma, shame, feeling labelled, losing your identity, and so on.
Despite the fall in stigma surrounding mental health in recent years, there is still a fear of stigmatisation when someone gets a diagnosis. This can be especially worrying depending on the person's culture, family history, or work culture. We need to remember that although mental health stigmatisation has decreased in our society as a whole, there are still sub-sets of society that may have very different views of mental health.
Many people can end up feeling labelled as a result of getting diagnosed with a mental health disorder. They may feel that they have lost their identity, and may feel as if others are treating them differently. This may be the case, but it may also be simply a perception.
Believe it or not, there are upsides to getting a mental health diagnosis.
One major upside is that proper treatment can begin once a diagnosis has been correctly given. Once a diagnosis has been made, you will likely be able to access treatments much more easily, and in the UK you will be able to access benefits or allowances at work that would help you to handle your mental health better.
There is something about being diagnosed that can make you feel like you aren't alone. There is a sense that other people have been where you are, and that your situation is not entirely unique. There is a sense of safety in knowing that other people have been where you are, and have survived.
Getting a correct diagnosis can even reduce feelings of blame or shame - there is a sense that this isn't anyone's fault, it is just biology.
As always, if you would like to book an initial counselling session with me, please email me at email@example.com
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