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The Future of Mental Health Movement invites you take charge of your mental health through inquiry and investigation. In addition to any help you may get from helping professionals, you will benefit from arriving at personal answers to the following 21 essential questions:

  1. I am suffering emotionally. What do I do and where do I go to start getting relief?
  2. I can’t tell if I have a “brain problem” or a “mind problem” or a “social problem” or a “psychological problem” or something else. How can I figure that out?
  3. Who are the “designated helpers” out there? What do they offer and what are the differences among them?
  4. I understand that the current mental health services provision system is based on the idea of “diagnosing and treating mental disorders.” How should I think about that?
  5. If I engage a mental health service provider I’m likely to receive a “diagnosis of a mental disorder” and be labeled in a certain way. How should I think about that label?
  6. What about “antidepressants,” “psychiatric medications,” and so on? How should I conceptualize the use of those chemicals?
  7. Given that “mental disorders” are “diagnosed” by virtue of the “symptoms” I present, rather than on the basis of underlying causes, how ought I to think about that?
  8. What if my circumstances are causing a portion of my emotional pain? How ought I to think about that?
  9. What if my formed personality is causing a portion of my emotional pain? How ought I to think about that?
  10. If I don’t have much meaning or life purpose in my life, how might my emotional pain be related to that?
  11. How should I conceptual “good mental health”? What am I actually aiming for?
  12. What is the difference between “psychiatric help” and “psychological help”?
  13. What about self-help advice and self-help groups (like AA)? How should I think about all that?
  14. What if I both want to talk about what’s bothering me and feel reluctant or frightened to talk about what’s bothering me? How should I approach that conflict?
  15. When is something just “a difference” or instead some sort of “abnormality”?
  16. How should I think about “normal” and “abnormal”?
  17. What if I know I need help and support but don’t feel equal to seeking out help and support? What can I do then?
  18. I received a psychiatric diagnosis (like ADHD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, etc.) some time ago. How should I think about whether I “still have that”?
  19. I have a regular doctor for my physical health. Is that a person to go see for my emotional distress?
  20. I don’t know if I have the energy or the desire to investigate all this. What’s the very least I need to know?
  21. I am in a lot of pain and distress right now and need immediate help. What should I do?

In the future, as we continue to expand this website, we will provide answers to these 21 questions. Please come back for those answers! To be kept informed about site additions, please join our community and receive our monthly electronic newsletter.


The DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual produced by the American Psychiatric Association) is a controversial compendium of what it calls “mental disorders.” It is widely used by psychiatrists, psychologists, family therapists and other mental health service providers to “diagnose and treat mental disorders.”

Many people do not believe that the DSM is either reliable or valid. Likewise, many people believe that the DSM is bad science (or not science at all), that it is dressed up to look like medicine (by using words like “diagnosis”) when it does none of the things that medicine typically does (like run diagnostic tests and concern itself with cause-and-effect), and that it is in part (perhaps in large part) an instrument of social control and a vehicle for providing a professional class with a livelihood and pharmaceutical companies with customers.

If the DSM (or its international counterpart the ICD) concerns you, the following questions are worth your attention.

  1. What is the DSM?
  2. Where did the DSM come from?
  3. How is the DSM employed?
  4. What are the major flaws and problems associated with the DSM?
  5. How does the DSM define a “mental disorder”?
  6. Why is the DSM silent on “causes”?
  7. Why is the DSM silent on “treatment”?
  8. What does the DSM mean by a “symptom”?
  9. What does the DSM mean by a “symptom picture”?
  10. What picture does the DSM paint of “normal” and “abnormal”?
  11. How does the DSM move from phenomena (like sadness) to labels (like clinical depression)?
  12. Is the DSM genuinely a “manual” or instead a “catalogue”?

To learn more about DSM controversies, please visit our reading list.