A health professional can diagnose a mental health condition by recognising symptoms in someone’s behaviour or mood. After making a diagnosis, a suitable course of treatment will be prescribed.

Sometimes, someone with a mental health condition will be given two different diagnoses because they have more than one condition (dual diagnosis) or two health professionals have come to different outcomes after seeing and assessing the same treatment. 

The term dual diagnosis is used to refer to a person with two conditions, and does not specify the disorders. Therefore if someone has a dual diagnosis, they could have:

  • Mental health and substance misuse problems
  • Learning disability and mental health problems

Support for people with a dual diagnosis used to be provided for by two or more different service providers, for example substance misuse and mental health. However, services are developing to provide specialist care to meet the complex needs of the service user. This is can be done in the following ways:

The Care Programme Approach (CPA) is the national framework for mental health services assessment, care planning, review, care co-ordination, and service user and carer involvement focused on recovery. Find out more in the links below:

A health and wellbeing plan can be useful for mental health service users to help them to think about ways in which they can deal with their difficulties.