mental health assessment
Mental Health Assessment
A mental health assessment gives your doctor an overall picture of how well you feel emotionally and how well you are able to think, reason, and remember (cognitive functioning). Your doctor will ask you questions and examine you. You might answer some of the doctor's questions in writing. Your doctor will pay attention to how you look and your mood, behavior, thinking, reasoning, memory, and ability to express yourself. Your doctor will also ask questions about how you get along with other people, including your family and friends. Sometimes the assessment includes lab tests, such as blood or urine tests.
A mental health assessment may be done by your primary care doctor or by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker.
A mental health assessment for a child is geared to the child's age and stage of development.
Why It Is Done
A mental health assessment is done to:
Find out about and check on mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, and anorexia nervosa.
Help tell the difference between mental and physical health problems.
Evaluate a person who has been referred for mental health treatment because of problems at school, work, or home. For example, a mental health assessment may be used to find out if a child has learning disabilities or behavior disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder (CD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Check the mental health of a person who has been placed in an institution or arrested for a crime, such as drunken driving or physical abuse.
How To Prepare
If you are having a mental health assessment because you have specific symptoms, you may be asked to keep a diary or journal for a few days before your appointment. A family member or friend may be able to describe your symptoms better than you can. If possible, bring that person with you to your appointment.
If your child is being checked for behavior problems, you may be asked to keep a diary or journal of how he or she acts for a couple of days. Your child's teacher may need to answer questions about how your child acts at school.
Many medicines can cause changes in your ability to think, reason, and remember. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the nonprescription and prescription medicines you take.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form.
How It Is Done
Health professionals often do a brief mental health assessment during regular checkups. If you are having symptoms of a mental health problem, your doctor may do a more complete assessment or refer you to another doctor, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.