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Mental Health Assessment

How It Feels

A mental health assessment is used to find out how you think and feel.

  • If you are being checked for a problem, such as alcohol dependence, you may feel resentment, anger, or hostility and may not want to have the assessment.
  • If you are being evaluated for a health condition, such as Alzheimer's disease, you may be afraid.
  • Because some mental health problems are hard to diagnose, you may worry or become upset if your condition is not quickly or easily identified.

Lab tests do not usually cause much discomfort. A blood sample will be taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm and may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch. Collecting a urine sample does not cause pain.

Risks

Your doctor may not be able to find the cause of your symptoms, because some mental health problems are hard to diagnose. Also, more than one mental health assessment or other tests may be needed to accurately diagnose your problem.

Results

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 may discuss some results of the mental health assessment with you right after the assessment. Complete results may not be available for several days.

Many conditions can change the results of a mental health assessment. Your doctor will talk with you about how your results relate to your symptoms and past health.

A mental health assessment can help diagnose:

What Affects the Test

You may not be able to have the test or the results may not be helpful if you:

  • Are not able to cooperate with and trust your doctor.
  • Are not willing to have a mental health assessment.
  • Have physical or emotional problems that interfere with your ability to complete a written test. In most cases, other testing instruments and tools are used if this is a problem for you.
  • Use some medicines, alcohol, or illegal drugs.
  • Have trouble reading, writing, or understanding the English language.

What To Think About

  • Some mental health problems can be hard to diagnose. You may need more than one mental health assessment and other tests to accurately diagnose your problem.
  • What your family and friends see or think about your symptoms can sometimes help your doctor diagnose a mental health problem. Consider having a family member or friend come with you to your appointment.
  • Contact your human resources department or local health department to find out what support services are available in your area.

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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