What Are Mental Health Assessments and How Do They Work?
A mental health evaluation is when a professional, such as your family doctor, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist, examine you to discover if you have a mental illness and what treatment options are available.
Everyone has their ups and downs. However, the negative feelings a person has on the inside — depression, anxiety, a desire to avoid people, difficulty thinking — may be more than the ups and downs that most people experience from time to time. It’s critical to take action if symptoms like these interfere with your or a loved one’s life. Early intervention has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms and increase the likelihood of a full recovery.
Getting a mental health assessment is the first step, and it usually entails a combination of factors. You may be asked questions orally, subjected to physical examinations, and asked to complete a questionnaire.
What to Anticipate
Examination of the body. Symptoms of a physical ailment can sometimes be mistaken for a mental disorder. A physical exam can help determine if anything else is at play, such as a thyroid condition or a neurological problem. Inform your doctor about any physical or mental health concerns you are aware of and any prescription or over-the-counter medications and supplements you are using.
Tests in the lab To rule out a medical condition, your doctor may perform blood tests, a urine test, a brain scan, or other tests. You’ll very certainly be asked about drug and alcohol use.
History of mental illness. Your doctor will inquire about the duration of your symptoms, your personal or family history of mental illness, and any previous psychiatric therapy.
Personal background. Your doctor may also inquire about your personal history or lifestyle: Do you have a spouse? What do you do for a living? Have you ever been a member of the military? Have you been arrested before? What was your childhood like? Your doctor could ask you to write down the key sources of stress in your life and any severe traumas you’ve experienced.
Evaluation of the mind. You’ll be asked questions about your feelings, thoughts, and actions. You may be questioned further about your symptoms, such as how they influence your daily life, what causes them to improve or worsen, and whether or not you’ve attempted to treat them independently. Your doctor will also pay attention to how you look and act: Are you a grumpy, shy, or aggressive person? Do you look them in the eyes? Are you a chatty person? How do you look in comparison to other people your age?
Evaluation of the mind. Your doctor will examine your capacity to think effectively, recall facts, and employ mental reasoning during the examination. Basic activities such as focusing attention, remembering brief lists, identifying familiar shapes and objects, and performing easy math problems may be tested. You may be asked about your capacity to perform daily tasks such as caring for yourself or going to work.
When a Child Requires an Evaluation
Children, like adults, can undergo mental health examinations that include several expert observations and testing.
Because it might be difficult for very young children to express their thoughts and feelings, the specific screening methods are frequently determined by their age. The doctor will also inquire about what parents, teachers, or other caregivers have noticed. A pediatrician can perform these assessments, or you may be referred to another specialist who specializes in children’s mental health.
Are you worried about a loved one?
If you suspect a friend or family member is experiencing symptoms, don’t be scared to bring up the subject of mental health. Let them know you care, tell them that mental illness is treatable, and offer to assist them in finding a professional who can help them.
You may not be able to persuade a loved one to seek diagnosis or treatment, but you can raise concerns about their mental health with their primary care physician. Don’t expect any information in return due to privacy rules. Provided your loved one is under the care of mental health professional. However, the provider is permitted to share information with you if your loved one consents.