You Are Here: Navigating The Mental Illness Diagnosis Maze

Mental illness has cycling periods, which means that when the signs and symptoms arise they last for a specific period of time. Sometimes, those symptoms are very distinctive and occur much the same way each time. At other times, new symptoms or changes in the presentation of the illness occur thereby creating a diagnosis of one type and sometimes multiple diagnoses. Also, based on the patient’s report of symptoms and those that have spent significant time with a patient may report some observable signs and objective symptoms and not others.

In addition to that, some signs may become dormant or not invisible for a period of time. For these reasons it is so important that when a person is first diagnosed that the evaluation is conducted thoroughly and include other key factors such as a medical report, a family history, other significant people’s reports with whom the client spends most of their time, e.g. a spouse, a teacher or parents.

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Also, the cultural competence of the professional and the interpretation of a client’s reports by the diagnostician can influence the determination of the diagnosis assigned to the client. This is not to assume that mental health providers are playing a guessing game. However, what is being said is that again, there are many factors. The more accurate and reliable the information from the client, the family or significant others along with the knowledge, skill set and cultural comprehension of the professional, the more successful the therapeutic process can be for everyone.

As the dawn of the mental health care system is attempting to make vital shifts to the way in which medical and mental health providers and law enforcement handle the rapidly increasing population of people living with mental illness, the more important it is for clients and providers to work together in identifying the true diagnosis or diagnoses.

Today, the treatment and care of clients is no longer about the professional being seen as omnipotent and the client being viewed as helpless. The client is in many cases seen as a partner in the recovery and maintenance process, so that survivors like AJ Mental don’t have to encounter an assembly line of health care professionals before solidifying the appropriate illness(es). Instead, clients can rest assured that they will receive accurate diagnoses, proper treatment and recovery.


Asha TarryAsha Tarry, LMSW, PLLC is a Mental Health Specialist, Life Coach and Owner of Behavioral Health Consulting Services (, a mental health company that provides consultations, evaluations, referrals and life coaching to adults 18 years and older with mental health and social services’ needs. Follow her @ashtarry on Twitter/ Asha Tarry on Facebook and LinkedIN.

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