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Living with a mental health problem is complicated—so why is diagnosis all about box-checking?

With new research highlighting the gap between how mental illnesses are diagnosed and what it's actually like to live with one, it's time we talked less about the theory of mental illness—and more about the complicated reality

By Emily Reynolds  

Centring patient experience has the potential to transform mental health care. Photo: PA

Navigating the mental healthcare system can be a curious experience. On one hand, to be ill is a profound thing, bodily and existentially: it fundamentally changes how you move through the world. To characterise mental illness as a purely internal struggle is wrong. It’s far more tangible than that.

In the consulting room, things look very different. A gap appears between you-as-patient and you-as-person—and in this transformation, something is lost. The often messy scramble of mental illness…

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