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BipolarLab Journal

How do we stigmatise our patients?

"It's stupid to use a diagnosis, and to make generalisations that a bipolar does this, a narcissist does that, etc. especially if we are also mental health professionals. Diagnoses although they have their role and usefulness are not enough to explain and predict entirely all human behaviour. When these generalisations lead to further stigmatisation of our patients then this is not only a stupid professional practice but also a dangerous practice." Dr Yanni Malliaris

Mental health diagnoses have become more prevalent and discussed in recent years, and while this can lead to increased awareness and understanding of mental health, it can also lead to harmful generalisations. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all people with a particular diagnosis behave in the same way, but this kind of thinking is not only foolish but also dangerous, especially when it also comes from mental health professionals.

Diagnoses can be useful tools for understanding and treating mental health conditions, but they are not the be-all and end-all. While they can be a starting point for understanding a person's behaviours and feelings and problems, they do not take into account the complexities and nuances of individual experience. Moreover, it is important to remember that a diagnosis does not define a person; rather, it is a way of understanding and addressing a person's symptoms.

This is why it is important to approach mental health diagnoses with caution, especially if we are mental health professionals. While diagnoses can provide useful information about a person's mental health, they are not the whole picture. It is important to take a holistic approach to mental health treatment, which includes looking at a person's individual experiences and circumstances, as well as their mental health symptoms.

A comprehensive and individualised mental health diagnostic program is also important to provide proper psychoeducation and not just provide some diagnostic labels. The diagnosis should empower the patient and it should open up proper pathways for effective treatment.

Generalisations about people with mental health diagnoses can also be harmful, leading to further stigmatisation and misunderstanding. This is particularly true for people seeking treatment for mental health issues. Stigma can lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment and can prevent individuals from seeking the help they need.

As mental health professionals, it is our responsibility to approach mental health diagnoses with caution and care. We must remember that diagnoses are not the whole picture and that each person is unique. By taking a holistic approach to mental health treatment and avoiding harmful generalisations, we can provide the best possible care to those seeking treatment.

Dr Yanni Malliaris is a clinical psychologist, Doctorate of the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London), Founder and Clinical Director of and EDO the Hellenic Bipolar Organisation. He is also Greece's first & only Beck Institute CBT Certified Clinician (BICBT-CC). He grew up along side his father's bipolar illness, and thanks to him he became a bipolar disorder specialist. He helps his bipolar patients to befriend their bipolar disorder, to remain well, and to excel.

ps: article free for republication as is with reference to the source.

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