A mental health assessment by a trained psychologist may be necessary if you’re seeking help for depression, suicidal thoughts, or you’re being evaluated for psychiatric treatment. These assessments are also used in cases of child custody and drug rehabilitation. There are many important steps to take in a mental health assessment, so make sure that you gather all the relevant information before the assessment takes place.
Test for depression and anxiety levels by using psychological inventories. For example, the Beck Depression Inventory, Anxiety Scale, and Hopelessness Scale as well as the aged care Firestone Assessment of Self-Destructive Thoughts were designed to measure anxiety and depression levels, current and recent mood states, and suicide ideation. A trained clinical practitioner should be authorized to administer these tests.
Administer neuropsychological tests as part of the mental health assessment. Many mental health disorders can impair cognitive functioning, and some of these tests check for impairments in memory and recall, recognition, processing speed, and spatial abilities. Examples of these tests are the CDR Computerized Assessment System or the Dean-Woodcock Neuropsychological Assessment System (DWNAS).
Review the results of the tests that were given to determine if there are any signs or symptoms of mental health disorders or cognitive impairments. As the trained clinical practitioner conducting the mental health assessment, bring these with you when speaking with the patient or client.
Ask questions about a person’s background and family history. Some important issues and questions to focus on include whether the person has had past mental health problems, whether they have a family history of depression or mental health disorders, and even any physical or health problems that might be contributing factors.
Find out why the patient came to see you by asking questions about current problems and life stressors. During this part of the mental health assessment it’s important that the clinical practitioner ask open ended questions to glean as much information as possible. Include questions about their current state of mind and whether they’ve had any thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Observe the person in terms of the mental status examination (MSE) domains and take mental or physical notes of everything. Include in your observations the patient’s appearance, attitude, behavior, mood, thought processes, and perceptions.
Review all the data that you’ve gleaned from the testing and mental health assessment process to make a psychological diagnosis, if required. Refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) for clarification of mental health disorder symptoms.