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When Psychiatric Labeling Hurts

When Psychiatric Labeling Hurts
By B. Imei Hsu, BSN-RN, MAC-LMHC, Artist

Our culture is moving towards a much needed health kick. After decades of being introduced to processed foods and new products sporting the “latest in scientific research and technology”, it is no surprise how often I find myself in conversation with those who have developed a skeptical eye mixed with a little paranoia about the health benefits and consequences of ingesting, integrating, or otherwise experimenting with new products. I observe more people flipping processed food boxes over, looking for ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils, excess sugar and sodium, and mono sodium glutamate (MSG). This kind of interest and investigation into what you are ingesting is a welcome health consciousness I wish everyone would adopt! Yet there is another kind of label of which people should be aware. And this one may be coming directly from your doctor’s office.  There are times when psychiatric labeling hurts, and you should learn as much as you can about it in order to make informed decisions about your mental health.

What Is A Psychiatric Label?

Guess what? You are not just a biochemical imbalance with appendages . There’s more to know about psychiatric labeling.

Psychiatric labeling, aka psychiatric diagnosis according to one medical model proposed in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), has become par-for-course in the American medical setting. All licensed practitioners of psychology and psychiatry, including this author, are required to receive education on the use of the DSM codes describing all known psychiatric disorders in reference to billing a client’s insurance, prescribing or recommending medication, sharing client information with a mutual helping professional, and dialoging in a shared language about evidence-based treatment options for a particular diagnostic specifier. What most people do not know is that DSM labeling and diagnosis in the currently accepted medical model is not the only model available. It is, however, the only model third-party payers accept.

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How Physical Exercise Can Help Cancer Patients

This weekend, I walked about three miles in late winter in Seattle by the water. While cold enough to warrant a hat, gloves, and coat, the sun was shining, and there were joggers, dog walkers, and inline skaters zipping by. For fair-weather only exercise people, the first blooms of spring on the trees and the sun peaking out of our normal gloomy clouds are cause for celebration. For people with cancer, physical exercise is a necessary component of the recovery process. Read guest blogger Liz Davies post about how physical exercise can help cancer patients. Even if you don’t have cancer, Spring is a great time to renew your commitment to improve your physical and mental health, and a great way to do that is to start with exercise. [Imei Hsu, Editor]

Can Physical Activity Help After Cancer?  by Liz Davies March 6, 2012

Cancer treatments and the cancer itself take a big toll on the human body. People who have overcome the deadly disease make preventing reoccurrence their number one concern. Luckily there are ways to combat reoccurrence. Studies have shown that a regular exercise routine can extend the lives of patients and help in preventing cancer from coming back.

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I’m currently in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the conference, “Creativity and Madness” Feb. 16-19. Looking at the intersection between artists and mental health, health practitioners will be presenting on a variety of topics, artists, and perspectives. I’ll be delivering my presentation, “#iCareBecauseYouDo”, but I’ll also be recharging my own batteries, as well as looking at the various aspects of my practice in my commitment to deliver extraordinary care in an ever-complicated world.

One the aspects that must occur is to deliver healthcare when people need it. This is often where government intervention and insurance-driven decision making has not done a good enough job. Private practitioners like myself make decision to abide by the protocols of those third party payers (we have to, if we want to keep our legal contracts with them). At the same time, clients are voting with their feet by refusing to use their health care and paying out of pocket for help that cannot be strictly categorized as psychotherapy, namely coaching and advising.

I’m sure that many of us at the conference will be talking about this, since we see the problems in our current healthcare system. While I might not be lolling about in a spa thinking about these challenges, know that I will be contemplating them in an environment that encourages me to take up the challenge: “Think Different.”