Mental Health Assessment
How It Is Done continued...
A mental health assessment
may include one or more verbal or written tests. You will be asked some
questions and will either answer out loud or write your answer on a piece of
paper. Your answers are then rated and scored by your doctor.
Written questionnaires generally contain 20 to 30 questions that can be
answered quickly, often in a "yes" or "no" format. They usually don't take long
to finish, and you can do them by yourself at a regular office visit.
Many mental health questionnaires are available. They look at:
- Specific problems. For example, for
depression, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, the Beck Depression
Inventory, or the Geriatric Depression Scale can be used to evaluate your
- How well you are able to think, reason, and remember
(cognitive function). The Mini Mental State Examination can be used to check
your cognitive function.
- How well you are able to carry out routine
activities, such as eating, dressing, shopping, or banking.
Sometimes a more extensive mental health test, such as
the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, may be needed. The test may need to be
given by a specialist such as a psychologist.
How a child's mental health is assessed
varies depending on the age of the child and the suspected problem. Young
children may be asked to draw pictures to express their feelings, or they may
be asked to look at pictures or images of common subjects and talk about how
the pictures make them feel. Parents or teachers may be asked to answer
questions about a child using a checklist.
How long does it take?
The time it takes for a
mental health assessment varies depending on the reason for the assessment. An
interview with written or verbal tests may last 30 to 90 minutes, or longer if
several different tests are done. An in-depth test such as the Wechsler Adult
Intelligence Scale may take 1 to 2 hours.
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
- Because some mental health problems are hard to diagnose,
you may worry or become upset if your condition is not quickly or easily
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