25 June 2018

WHO releases ICD11

On 18 June 2018 the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a new version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) – ICD11. Member States are now invited to prepare for implementation, including translating ICD into their national languages. The aim is for Member States to start reporting using ICD-11 on 1 January 2022.


According to the WHO, ICD is the foundation for the identification of health trends and statistics globally and the diagnostic classification standard for all clinical and research purposes. In effect, it provides common definitions for diseases and other related health conditions.


ICD11 has attracted media attention because of changes to definitions around mental health. The WHO has removed transgender as a classified mental illness and, for the first time, added gaming addiction to the list.


MHE has long believed organisations need to compile diagnostic manuals, like ICD11, with caution.  We have often warned about the inclusion of categories and definitions where there is little or no evidence.


Being labelled with a so called ‘mental disorder’ can have a profound impact on the lives of service users, as well as the treatment and care they receive.  People with mental health problems are often discriminated against in society and socially excluded. Being diagnosed with a ‘mental disorder’ can potentially affect relationships, social security and welfare entitlements, ability to take out insurance, and employment status.


MHE is not opposed to diagnostic manuals – they can be of great benefit to practitioners in their work and are important in helping governments develop responsive health systems. However, being diagnosed can mean being labelled for the individual. A person is not their diagnosis and it is important to look first at the root cause of a problem, rather than trying to treat any ‘symptoms’.


For a more detailed overview of MHE’s position, see:

Mental Health Europe Position Paper on the ICD-10 Revision

Experts urge cautious approach as WHO classifies gaming addiction as illness

Shatter the stigma on World Health Day


For more information contact Robin Murphy on robin.murphy@mhe.purpleplanet.website.

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