Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Mental Health Problems Should Not Be Labeled As Illness, Psychologists Claim

By Sam Lehman | May 13, 2013 03:08 AM EDT

Mental health problems should not be labeled as an illness, Psychologists claim
Mental health problems should not be labeled as an illness, Psychologists claim (Photo : Reuters)

According to leading scientists, mental health problems should not be labeled as an illness as the two are completely different conditions.

The American Psychiatry Association released the latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders where they labeled mental health problems including trauma, emotional stress and worrying about personal health as an illness, which can be treated by doctors with the help of drugs.

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However, Dr Lucy Johnstone, a consultant clinical psychologist argues in a statement released May 12 by the British Psychological Society's division of clinical psychology that this is not true as there are no drugs that can treat "emotional distress" in a way that physical illnesses is treated.

She also states that there is no evidence that a mental breakdown is similar to a physical breakdown and hence the two cannot be classified under one condition.

"No one is denying that people suffer very extreme forms of distress. What we are saying, and in fact what some of the world's most senior psychiatrists are saying, is that there is no evidence that this kind of breakdown is best understood as an illness, with genetic or biochemical causes," said Johnstone.

According to her, people with mental breakdowns should be treated like "people with problems" and not "patients with illnesses." She also noted that although previous studies have claimed that psychiatric breakdowns are caused when there is a change in a person's body and mind, there is no evidence to prove the same. She says the most researchers know is that these breakdowns take place when something happens to people in their lives and unless there is a reason for what happened and it is is not analyzed; a mental problem cannot be treated completely.

Addressing the situation, Professor Sir Simon Wessely, a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and chair of psychological medicine at King's College London said that a "classification system for mental disorder" needs to be put in place to effectively treat mental problems like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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