tiffany lam '18 world health organization

tiffany lam '18
world health organization


Tiffany is a senior at Harvard College, concentrating in Human Development and Regenerative Biology with a secondary in Psychology. Though born and raised in the sunny state of California, Tiffany now spends the majority of her time on the East Coast. Outside of WorldMUN, she is involved in the Harvard Crimson, Harvard Yearbook Productions, and Crimson Care Collaborative. During her free time, she enjoys reading fiction books and watching movie trailers on Youtube. After serving on Secretariat at WorldMUN 2017, Tiffany is excited to return to WordMUN 2018 as a chair and looks forward to all the new experiences it will bring!

Topic: Mental Health Classification

The most popular tool used for Psychiatric diagnoses is the DSM, a diagnostic manual published annually by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM works through a classification system, providing guidelines to what defines and warrants a psychiatric diagnosis. However, there are many caveats to this system. With psychiatric disorders, there are common symptoms shared between multiple disorders and it is hard to define what symptom is a sign of a specific condition. Often times, patients don’t receive the right diagnoses because they don’t show the exact combination of symptoms designated. This can have many healthcare implications. Patients won’t be covered by healthcare for the proper medication they need. Sometimes, patients show symptoms that don’t match the criteria for any disorder listed and do not receive a diagnosis or the proper treatment. In addition, the severity of symptoms manifest itself differently between individuals so where does one draw the line of how severe the symptom has to be to “count”. If the threshold is too high, once again patients will not receive the proper treatment and if the threshold is too low, there will be a problem of over diagnoses. Alongside the problem of not fitting the right criteria, there is also a problem with fitting into the wrong criteria. Many patients, after a wrong diagnosis, will then experience a self-fulfilling prophecy and actually manifest the symptoms after receiving an incorrect diagnosis. The questions before the World Health Organization are thus varied and complex: should we keep the DSM manual? If yes, how should we modify this system to more accurately identify and treat patients? If not, how should we develop a new guideline for diagnosing psychiatric disorders?