Yesterday, The Lancet published a systematic review of the research literature on the experience of receiving a mental health diagnosis. The authors sought to overcome limitations of previous studies, taking account of:
- the perspectives of patients, care-givers, and clinicians;
- different mental health conditions;
- different clinical contexts and settings; and
- different stages of clinical process.
Receiving a diagnosis of mental disorder is usually complex and consequential. On the positive side, a mental health diagnosis can:
- help service users understand their feelings, thoughts, and actions;
- provide a sense of relief, control, and containment;
- offer hope for recovery;
- improve relationships with service providers; and
- reduce uncertainty.
On the negative side, a mental health diagnosis diagnosis can:
- increase feelings of hopelessness, disempowerment, and frustration;
- exacerbate symptoms;
- lead to stigma and discrimination;
- alienate service users and service providers from one another..
The authors organize their findings into themes, including:
- information provision;
- stigma; and
- unctional value of diagnosis for recovery.
A model of considerations of factors influencing service-user experience of mental health diagnosis is presented to promote a holistic understanding of individuals, which can empower service users, provide hope, and guide treatment. The authors emphasize that their model should be used in collaboration with service users and that sensitivity to individual needs and preferences is important.
Future research should compare findings in other contexts, such as children’s mental health services, and clinical populations, such as dual diagnosis.