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Implications of DSM-5 for Health Care Organizations and Mental Health Policy

Author: RICHARD J. CASTILLO and KRISTINA L. GUO
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 39 No. 2

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has made major changes in the way mental illness is conceptualized, assessed, and diagnosed in its new diagnostic manual, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published in 2013, and has far reaching implications for health care organizations and mental health policy. This paper reviews the four new principles in DSM-5: 1) A spectrum (also called ?dimensional?) approach to the definition of mental illness; 2) recognition of the role played by environmental risk factors related to stress and trauma in predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating mental illness; 3) cultural relativism in diagnosis and treatment of mental illness; and 4) recognizing the adverse effects of psychiatric medications on patients. Each of these four principles will be addressed in detail. In addition, four major implications for health care organizations and mental health policy are identified as: 1) prevention; 2) client-centered psychiatry; 3) mental health workers retraining; and 4) medical insurance reform. We conclude that DSM- 5?s new approach to diagnosis and treatment of mental illness will have profound implications for health care organizations and mental health policy, indicating a greater emphasis on prevention and cure rather than long-term management of symptoms.

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