It’s a common misconception that when you receive treatment for mental health, you’ll be lying on a couch, chatting with a therapist. In reality, mental health treatment includes much more than therapy, and the best services for you will not look the same as they will for someone else.
In order to determine the best treatment plan for your needs, you’ll need to take a mental health assessment. This questionnaire, though it may just feel like a formality, is actually an essential tool in helping you access the care you need.
What is a mental health assessment?
A mental health assessment is a series of questions conducted by a medical or mental health professional to gauge the intensity of a mental health condition, evaluate symptoms and begin the process of creating a treatment plan.
This assessment is conducted like an interview and can occur in person, over the phone or online. It is often called a level of care assessment or intake assessment, and is designed to assist clinicians as they choose the most appropriate care for your needs and preferences.
Generally, the assessment will determine which service on a continuum of care will best cater to the intensity of your symptoms: medically managed inpatient, inpatient, intensive outpatient, outpatient or aftercare programming.
A mental health assessment normally takes anywhere from a couple minutes to an hour, depending on the depth of the assessment and the services the facility provides. In that time you’re likely to discuss the following:
Physical and emotional symptoms
Your personal history of mental health
Your family history of mental health
Insurance (or how the services will be paid for)
Your most prevalent stressors
Any co-occurring disorders
Any medications you are currently taking
It’s possible more subjects will be covered in the initial intake assessment, but these are the most common topics.
Additionally, a mental health assessment will sometimes include a physical exam. This is to rule out other factors that may be causing psychological distress, like a neurological disorder, substance use disorder, diabetes or similar conditions.
What are common mental health assessment questions?
When you are ready to start treatment, it’s likely that you’ll be curious about mental health assessment questions. While no two providers are guaranteed to use the same outline, here are some questions you may come across:
What is your presenting problem?
How long have you struggled with this condition?
Do you have any co-occurring conditions (physical or mental)?
Have you been diagnosed with a mental health condition before?
Who do you currently live with?
Where are you employed?
Where were you referred from?
Have you been hospitalized for a mental health condition?
Have you received treatment for a mental health condition?
Are you currently prescribed any medications?
What symptoms are you experiencing?
Are you at risk for self-harm?
Are you at risk of abuse or assault?
Have you experienced domestic violence?
What are your current stressors?
What are your strengths?
Are there any barriers to treatment (language barrier, transportation)?
Do you have social support from family or friends?
Do you desire to involve anyone in your treatment?
Do you have any allergies?
Have you ever had an adverse response to medication?
Do you currently use any drugs or alcohol?
When was your last use of drugs or alcohol?
In addition to these questions, if you are undergoing a mental health assessment in-person, the assessment provider will be observing different behaviors, such as your—appearance, speech, thought process (ability to concentrate), social skills, mood, memory and more.
Are there online mental health assessments I can take?
There are plenty of online mental health assessment screenings available, it can feel overwhelming. When you’re looking for an accurate and useful tool, you’ll want to ensure you have a reputable source.
The American Psychiatric Association has a page with a plethora of resources that are backed by science and specific to certain diagnoses. While it may take time to find the best measure for your condition, this is a helpful page to conduct a self-assessment for mental illness.
Where can I find a mental health assessment near me?
While online mental health assessment tools are readily available online, when you start treatment you’ll want a professional assessment to determine the most appropriate level of care for your situation.
Even if you’ve taken an online evaluation, most facilities will conduct one in-person or over the phone when you sign up for treatment.
If you’re ready to stop guessing what treatment you need and get an expert’s opinion, you’ll want to reach out to Pyramid Healthcare, a premier addiction recovery provider with facilities in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.