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Increasing Mental Health Awareness: Too Much of a Good Thing?


By John M Grohol PsyD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief


Today is the American Psychological Association’s “Blog Party” in recognition of May being mental health month. The marketing effort behind designating a specific month a time to recognize and help increase awareness of a certain disease, disorder or condition is intended to help people learn more about various medical and mental health concerns.


But a few weeks ago, physician H. Gilbert Welch wrote an op-ed in the LA Times that questioned whether the pendulum has swung too far the other way. Have we become a nation of people who will get diagnosed for all sorts of sub-clinical problems at the drop of a hat?


Indeed, I think there is a very real danger of that becoming the case. And nowhere is that more likely than in mental health.


Dr. Ron Pies talked about some of these same issues in his article a year and a half ago, Is Grief a Mental Disorder? No, But it May Become One! We, as a society, are in danger of medicalizing and turning everyday human experiences into disorders and diseases needing treatment.


Mental health concerns are at greater risk than most medical diseases because the signs and symptoms of mental disorders are almost always behavioral and self-reported in nature. You have depression when you self-report your symptoms meet the fairly arbitrary line drawn in the sand by mental health experts.


That line, now pretty clearly delineated by meeting a specific number of criteria for a particular disorder, is about to get a lot fuzzier. In the latest proposed revision of the reference book used to diagnose mental disorders — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM) — there is a movement to make virtually all major mental disorders diagnosable on a spectrum.



For an alternative view, check out John Gever’s article, Does the DSM-5 medicalize normal behavior?.


Read in Full:

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/05/18/increasing-mental-health-awareness-too-much-of-a-good-thing/


Related Articles


“May is Mental Health Month”

http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/05/14/may-is-mental-health-month/26193.html

 

“APA Mental Health Blog Party Roundup”

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/05/18/apa-mental-health-blog-party-2011-roundup/

 




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