Mental Health Assessment
How It Is Done continued...
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
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.
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:
- Mental health problems, such as
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
bipolar disorders, and
- Developmental problems,
intellectual disability, and
- Substance abuse, including
alcohol and drug abuse and dependence.
- Diseases of the nervous system, such as
Parkinson's disease, and
- Other problems, such as
thyroid disease and brain tumors.