For someone who has never struggled with mental health or been to a counseling session, the process of counseling may be a mystery or some “you go there to get help, they fix you” kind of mentality. Unfortunately, if you have been part of the process, you know this is not the case. The Huffington Post came out with a new article on the topic of mental health that I think both clients of mental health and Church officials/congregation members who have a desire to support people who struggle with mental health should read.

In the article, the Huffington Post recounts the difficult process of Nic to get a diagnosis client agreed with which client reports was effective and accurate.

1,277 days. That’s approximately how long it took Nic Newling to figure out he was dealing with bipolar disorder after first reaching out for help.

This is actually quite common.

“Finding the right treatment plan comes in stages,” said Bob Carolla, a spokesperson and senior writer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Not all symptoms may be appearing at the same time. Others may not be immediately recognized as symptoms.”

This is especially true when it comes to high-functioning people. For example, if a person is ordinarily achievement-oriented or creative, it may not be obvious they’re having a manic episode, Carolla said.

Data published by the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association found that 69 percent of people with bipolar disorder are originally misdiagnosed, and more than one-third remain misdiagnosed for a decade or more. Many factors can contribute to this, including the delayed onset of certain symptoms or patients not sticking with treatment.

This process of identifying the correct diagnosis is called “differential diagnosis” where you have to fully rule-out a diagnosis. With adolescence, this can be very difficult. In fact, we said as much in our 10 Myths About ADHD post where regularly people are diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Bipolar I Disorder, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, instead of ADHD.

But the point of a diagnostic assessment is to get the assessment right and in the world of mental health, getting it right can take time but is very necessary. Share your own viewpoint on the process of getting a diagnosis in the comments below and let us know what you think.

Published by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is a Licensed Professional Counselor working with adults and youth. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

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