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
- Find out about and check on mental health
problems, such as
Alzheimer's disease, and
- 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).
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.
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(What is a PDF document?).
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.