NIMH Withdraws Support for DSM-5

There’s been some big news this week in the world of mental health (for one that suicide among baby boomers is increasing to the point where the number of suicides per year in the United States now exceeds deaths by automobile accidents), but perhaps the biggest story relates to the National Institute for Mental Health rejecting the authority of the soon-to-be-released Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known to most in the business as simply, DSM-5.

Here’s a brief excerpt from Christopher Lane’s Psychology Today piece:

In a humiliating blow to the American Psychiatric Association, Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Director of the NIMH, made clear the agency would no longer fund research projects that rely exclusively on DSM criteria. Henceforth, the NIMH, which had thrown its weight and funding behind earlier editions of the manual, would be “re-orienting its research away from DSM categories.” “The weakness” of the manual, he explained in a sharply worded statement, “is its lack of validity.” “Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure.”

This could prove to be a very thorny issue for insurance companies, practitioners, not to mention clients — if the diagnoses in the manual, which are used for billing, are not considered to be reliably valid.