Life circumstances can impact on everyone and their emotional wellbeing. When someone’s thoughts, emotions and experiences are ongoing or distressing, a clinician may give them a diagnosis of an illness, disorder or condition to describe what is happening. People are not their diagnosis, though some people find a diagnosis helpful.
From a lived experience perspective, it is important that we describe a diagnosis for what it is: a medical term used to describe a set of symptoms. It is a quick way of summarising a person’s emotional experiences and behaviours. A person does not have a diagnosis; they are given a diagnosis.
Often people with the same diagnosis have very different experiences. This means that people should never use a diagnosis to try and understand a person. The best source of information about what a person is experiencing is that person.
Some diagnoses describe similar behaviours or experiences and can be grouped together:
Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are trained to provide people with a mental health diagnosis. Diagnosing can be complex as it is difficult to categorise human experiences.
… a diagnosis by itself is a poor guide to understanding a person or their experiences and could lead to workers making assumptions.
Workers need to be encouraged to ask the person questions about their experiences and needs.
At the end of the day, we need to ask people what they are going through and respond specifically to that.
headspace: The Pros and Cons of Receiving a DiagnosisIn this video, headspace Youth National Reference Group members, Hannah and Sophie, outline some of the pros and cons of receiving a diagnosis for a mental health issue.Type: Video | Closed captionsDuration 3.20 minutes
WayAhead: FactsheetsThis website provides a range of fact sheets for wellbeing and mental illnesses, fact sheet translations and a directory of NSW services.
Head to Health: What you should know about mental health conditions and disorders?Head to Health is an Australian Department of Health website which provides resources for people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.
The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists: Mental health professionals: Who's who?There are a range of professionals who can help with mental health issues. This is a guide to the different mental health workers you might come across and describes who does what.Type: Web pageEstimated reading time: 5 minutes
Mental health translationsThis website provides access to health, wellbeing and mental health resources translated in many languages.
Types of mental health conditions