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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:

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. For some assessments, you may be asked to bring a family member or friend with you, someone who can describe your symptoms from their view.

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 with 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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 11, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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