Break the stigma of mental illness

May 14, 2018 / By Cecilia Charles, RHIA

This month, many cities across the U.S. will walk in support of mental health to help raise awareness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), there is a “social virus” spreading across the country called Stigma. Based on the statistics, one in five adults in the U.S. are living with a mental health condition.

Stigma is a sign or sense of disgrace that sets someone apart from others. NAMI states that “navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough and the isolation and blame that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to moving forward in one’s recovery journey.” In the U.S., many affected by mental health conditions are ashamed because of that stigma. This can make them feel as if they have lost control of their lives, limits them from seeking proper help and can even result in suicide.

As coders, we see documentation for mental health illness which is often found in Past Medical, Social and Family History. In the outpatient setting, coders need to adhere to coding guidelines when determining chronic conditions/disease that are treated on an ongoing basis which affect patient care, treatment or management. The ICD-10-CM chapter related to mental illness ranks depression, schizophrenia, anxiety and other similar conditions amongst the top diagnoses of chronic conditions.

With computer-assisted coding, coding for mental health disorders will be auto-suggested, but it is up to the coder’s professional judgment when to utilize the documented diagnosis.

Top documented diagnosis found from Mental Health Conditions (Chapter 5) are:

  • Nicotine Dependence
  • ADHD (Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Dementia
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety
  • Cannabis Dependence
  • Alcohol Dependence
  • OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
  • MDD (Major Depressive Disorder)

Recent violent events in our society have been attributed to mental illness, but it is important to remember that not everyone dealing with mental illness behaves violently. What is being done to prevent this stigma? You are encouraged to help “spread the cure.”

Many in our communities are affected by mental illness. Let’s not turn our back on them or put our heads in the sand.

Break the stigma!

Cecilia Charles is a clinical development analyst at 3M Health Information Systems.