Donald Trump’s mental health is under fire. He is having no trouble garnering attention for his unconventional strategies and behavior, and people are rightly curious about what it all means. The New York Times recently published a letter to the editor signed by 35 mental health professionals diagnosing Mr. Trump’s behavior as gravely unfit to serve the presidency safely.
Naturally speculation is to be expected, but labeling this behavior can be tricky and dangerous, especially in the absence of all the information. Not only is it a reckless and misinformed practice, but it adds to dangerous stigma that already surrounds mental illness.
I was pleased to help on this great piece about the dangers of diagnosing from afar… even if you are qualified. To read the full post on SELF, click HERE.
Publicly labeling a person as “crazy” or declaring that they are mentally ill can impact people who are actually suffering from mental health issues. “People who are struggling with mental health are already struggling,” licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., tells SELF.
A person may feel shame about having a mental health issue due to a sense of stigma around it. Hearing armchair diagnoses thrown around when a person behaves in a way others don’t agree with can prevent those who are ill from getting help. “When you start stigmatizing any mental illness, you create a barrier to treatment and help, and keep people sick and suffering,” Clark says.
Clark says that using the term “crazy” is detrimental because it implies that mental illness is a weakness. “It’s dangerous to make those assumptions,” she says.
Clark says it’s crucial for people to let go of armchair diagnoses when it comes to mental health. “Mental illness is…about the personal struggles impacting people’s lives,” she says. “Diagnoses are part of treatment, a labeling system that’s used among clinicians to inform treatment and solutions. When these labels are taken out of a treatment context and used as weapons, they lose the meaning they are intended to impart.”