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?
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.