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Glossary of Terms

Mental Health Injury / Psychological Injury

For Experts

  • Currently not a diagnosis in the DSM or ICD.
  • Refers to any type of mental disorder, not only those that occur as a result of exposure to one or more potentially psychologically traumatic events.
  • Injury means an acute state, not chronic states that can occur as a result of a physical or psychological trauma; however, colloquially injury can also mean a chronic state arising from an acute injury, for example, an operational stress injury.
  • Commonly used to manage the stigma with associated language like mental disorder. 
  • Mental disorders or other mental health conditions often are caused by mechanisms other than exposure to a psychologically traumatic stressor. Examples include mental disorders such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorders.

For General Public

  • Mental health injury and psychological injury are alternative ways of referring to mental health conditions, including mental disorders, especially when the mental health conditions or mental disorders are thought to be caused by exposure to potentially psychologically traumatic events and other stressors.
  • Mental health injury and psychological injury are not diagnostic categories in the DSM or ICD manuals.
  • The word “injury” has been used in efforts to destigmatize mental disorders, especially posttraumatic stress disorder.

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