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Introduction to ‘How do we diagnose mental health issues’?

Introduction to the activity of 'How do we define mental health issues'. Introduces the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

Mental health problems are often a difficult and complex area to diagnose.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) diagnostic manual

There can be multiple mental health issues present at the same time and many overlapping symptoms. One of the key tools used to diagnose an individual is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (known as the DSM-5) which is a diagnostic manual. This manual has all known mental illnesses listed and their respective symptoms. A clinician must assess an individual to determine what symptoms are present and how severe these are. Once this assessment has taken place the DSM-5 is used to reach an official diagnosis.

The next steps discuss how we diagnose mental health issues and think about the points it raises. Further exploration will move into examining the DSM-5 in more detail by assessing a case study. This will allow you to see how an illness might be assessed and you can decide upon the diagnosis.

Points to consider

While undertaking these activities think about the issues that present themselves while you explore these areas and any positive aspects you find.

A diagnosis of a mental health issue can be life-changing for the individual that is receiving it and it is important that health care professionals get this right so the most effective treatment can be provided.


American Psychiatric Association (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5®. (2013) 5th edn. Arlignton Va: APA

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Defining Mental Health: A Short Introduction

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