Prior to seeking help for a mental health concern, it is common to wonder, “What does a mental health assessment involve?” In fact, a lack of information about mental health assessments may cause people to delay seeking professional care. Taking time to learn what a mental health assessment involves is a step toward getting the best care for yourself or a loved one.
What Is a Mental Health Assessment?
A mental health assessment is a way for professionals to identify the full scope of a person’s mental health needs and strengths. The information gathered during a mental health assessment can help both individual care providers and multidisciplinary treatment teams determine which services are most appropriate.
Depending on their purpose and scope, mental health assessments may be conducted by doctors, psychologists, social workers, and other qualified professionals.
Why Do I Need a Mental Health Assessment?
People may need mental health assessments for a variety of reasons. Here are a few scenarios that may prompt you to contact a professional for an assessment:
- You’ve had a significant change in mood, personality, or behavior.
- You’ve been experiencing symptoms that have disrupted your ability to function in school, at work, or in other important areas of your life.
- You believe that you may be suffering from anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder.
- You have been having trouble focusing, concentrating, or remembering.
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide have been bothering you.
Please understand that this is by no means a comprehensive list of every reason why you might need a mental health assessment. If you have concerns about your mental or emotional well-being, and you think you may benefit from completing an assessment, consult with your family doctor or contact a reputable treatment provider in your area.
What Happens During a Mental Health Assessment?
A mental health assessment is a conversation between a person who may need treatment and a qualified professional. Some mental health assessments also include written questions.
As noted earlier on this page, the purpose of a mental health assessment is to collect the information that is necessary for a professional to identify the scope of your needs and determine what type of treatment is most appropriate for you.
Here are a few of the many topics that may be addressed during a mental health assessment:
- Your age, marital status, and the quality of your relationships with friends and family
- Sources of stress in your life and how you typically cope with or manage stress
- What you do for fun, to relax, or to unwind
- The nature and severity of the symptoms that you have been experiencing
- When the symptoms began and how often they occur
- The impact that these symptoms have had on your life
- Your immediate and long-term goals
Depending on what types of challenges you have been experiencing, your mental health assessment may be accompanied by a physical exam and lab tests. This identifies any medical issues that could be contributing to the problems you have been experiencing.
How to Prepare for a Mental Health Assessment
In most cases, you won’t be required to do anything to prepare for a mental health assessment.
Although you will likely be responding to a series of questions during your assessment, these questions don’t have “right” or “wrong” answers. There is no need to study or memorize any material.
That said, it can be beneficial to you and to the professional who is conducting the assessment if, prior to your appointment, you spend some time reflecting on the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, the impact they’ve had on your life, and what you hope to accomplish by participating in the assessment and getting help.
Also, if you have previously received mental health services, or if you are currently taking any medications, it can be valuable to write that information down and bring it with you to the assessment. The person conducting the assessment will likely ask you to sign a consent form. This is done so that the person conducting the assessment can access your treatment records and other relevant documentation.
Your ability to provide detailed information and honest answers will help the professional develop a full picture of your strengths and needs. The more they understand the challenges you’ve been facing, the better prepared they will be to help you.
Questions to Ask During a Mental Health Assessment
When you’re learning about what does a mental health assessment involve, it is understandable to focus first on the questions you may be asked and the information you may need to provide. However, don’t forget that an assessment is a discussion. This means you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions.
The questions you ask will, of course, depend on your unique circumstances. But here are a few general questions that you may want to ask during your mental health assessment:
- How do you define your approach to treatment?
- What levels of mental health care do you provide?
- What forms of therapy do you offer, and do you think these services align with my needs?
- Do you have experience helping people who have faced challenges similar to what I have been dealing with?
- What is a typical day in treatment like?
Any reputable treatment professional will be happy to answer your questions. It will also be happy to explain anything you don’t fully understand. If a facility won’t provide you with the information you need, you may want to seek help elsewhere.
Get a Mental Health Assessment in South Florida Today
Completing a thorough assessment and receiving an accurate diagnosis are important steps on the path toward improved health. To schedule a mental health assessment in South Florida for yourself or a loved one, contact us today.