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What are the consequences of a mental health diagnosis?

A diagnosis of a mental health issue can have a range of positive and problematic consequences for the patient
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

A diagnosis of a mental health issue can have positive and problematic consequences for the patient.

Helpful consequences

  • Getting the right diagnosis is a very important step because effective treatments for that mental health issue can then be recommended and started.
  • Understanding your diagnosis can be a source of hope and relief. You begin to learn that your condition is shared by others, that effective treatments are available and that recovery is possible.
  • Health care providers use diagnostic terms to communicate with other professionals to coordinate treatment, therefore this can assist in a person’s recovery and treatment potentially.
  • If the individual has to pay for their treatment, a formal diagnosis is required by insurance companies in order to reimburse the provider for care and treatment.

Diagnosis concerns

Diagnosis of a mental health issue is not without potential drawbacks. Some of these include:

  • The wrong diagnosis can be made. Different disorders can have similar symptoms, so it may appear a person has one mental health issue when they actually have another one. Sometimes the health care provider may not have enough information about the person or their symptoms to arrive at the correct diagnosis.
  • When an incorrect diagnosis is made, the wrong treatments may be recommended, which could be of little or no benefit, or even detrimental to the person.
  • Sometimes a person will ‘buy in’ to their diagnosis and start acting in a manner consistent with how they think a person with that mental health issue would behave.
  • Some diagnoses and labels related to mental health issues or addiction create prejudice or discrimination when used inappropriately. This could mean that the person with the diagnosis is treated unfairly, denied services or opportunities, ridiculed, or may receive negative reactions from others because they have been labelled as ‘mentally ill’ (Susman 2018).

Diagnosing mental health issues is often a very sensitive topic and can have far-reaching consequences for the person involved.


Susman, D. (2018) ‘How do you Diagnose a Mental Illness?’ Psychology Today [online]. available from [16th November 2018]

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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