According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, about 26% of U.S. adults have diagnosable mental conditions every year. Mental health assessments and screenings are essential for diagnosing mental disorders so that these patients can get the necessary treatment in time.
The process is usually conducted by mental health experts, such as psychiatrists, clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, or psychologists. These experts rely on mental health assessment tools to help make accurate diagnoses and prescribe appropriate treatment.
Unfortunately, outdated mental health screening tools often lead to delayed treatment, missed diagnoses, misdiagnosis, and overprescribing. This PDF spells out some concerning statistics about the state of mental healthcare. However, there are solutions that help providers make accurate and timely diagnoses.
Let’s review what you need to know about mental health assessments, screening, and how to evaluate the tools used.
When Is an Evaluation Needed?
Every mental disorder manifests differently, but experts have pinpointed common symptoms that indicate further examination is necessary. Patients might need mental health assessment and screening if they experience:
- Excessive anxiety
- Excessive anger, irritability, and hostility
- Mood swings
- Prolonged sadness, depression, or apathy
- Inability to cope with daily tasks and problems
- Significant changes in personality, sleeping patterns, and eating habits
- Substance use
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Feeling disconnected from social activities
- Excessive worrying and fear
- Suicidal thoughts
- Changes in sex drive
- Trouble concentrating
Reasons for Screening
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), mental health screening is usually completed in the early stages of the therapeutic process and serves different purposes, including:
- Diagnosing or ruling out suspected mental disorders
- Formulating a mental health treatment plan
- Helping mental health experts distinguish between mental health and physical issues that could result in similar symptoms
- Identifying a patient’s strengths
- Enhancing the decision-making process during treatment
- Promoting positive change
- Facilitating treatment planning
- Preventing many years of suffering
What Assessment Tools Are Used in Mental Health?
Mental health assessments invite participants to answer questions regarding their mental state and gather subjective information about their daily experiences. These assessments can be formal or informal, self-reported or therapist-administered, standardized or non-standardized. Note that mental health assessments can be conducted at any stage during the counseling process.
Professionals use various approaches to understand mental health and evaluate the extent of a mental disorder. Assessment and screening tools are among the most reliable tools available to mental health professionals for gathering patient information.
What Are the Different Types of Mental Health Assessments?
There are various types of standardized mental health assessment tools used to diagnose mental disorders. The most common examples include:
Clinical Assessments and Mental Health Screening Questionnaires
This refers to the evaluation of a patient’s medical, physical, psychological, cognitive, and behavioral history and current conditions to diagnose the presence of any mental disorder. The assessment can be initiated by a mental health expert or the patient.
The interview provides essential information that cannot be obtained using a formal test. In a clinical interview, the mental health professional can observe the patient’s behavior and reactions to real-life situations.
Psychometric testing often comprises formalized personality, cognitive, psychological, behavioral, and emotional functioning tests. These tests are crucial for diagnosing mental health disorders, but they require specialized training to assess, score, and interpret.
Physical and Laboratory Testing
What is an example of mental health assessment that involves testing? First, understand that physical and laboratory tests are meant to verify that the patient doesn’t have any physical problems causing a mental disorder.
This approach entails collecting lab data that might include tests of a patient’s genetic profile, hormone levels, immune system, energy metabolism, and nutritional status.
This type of assessment requires using techniques and professionals from other disciplines to help develop a picture of the whole person and broaden the assessment process. Some of the professionals who can assist include audiologists, speech therapists, religious specialists, and vocational rehabilitation specialists.
A Checklist: Is this a Good Assessment Tool?
For a mental health assessment tool to be considered standardized, it must meet specific criteria for all standard outcome measures.
Use this checklist to determine if the tool you are considering is a good standardized assessment tool:
- Is it comprehensive?
- Is it evidence-based?
- Is it reliable enough to produce consistent results?
- Does it showcase validity when differentiating patients with mental disorders?
- Does it document the sensitivity to identify a mental problem accurately over time?
- Does it have the specificity to identify the people who don’t have a mental problem?
- Does it focus on accuracy and ease of use?
- Is it DSM-5 compliant?
- Is it clinically validated?
- Is it validated for use in diverse groups, especially ethnic minorities and those with low socioeconomic statuses?
- Is it easy to score and read?
- Is it digital?
The bottom line? Not all mental health assessment tools are created equal. Improperly developed and outdated tools can put your patients and your practice at risk. View this PDF to see how nView’s solutions stack up to the PHQ-9.
Learn More at nView Today
Mental health assessment tools advance clinical care by enabling healthcare providers to electronically screen, interview, monitor, and measure outcomes for adult and pediatric mental health disorders. When an accurate diagnosis is achieved early, treatment outcomes improve.
nView provides a cohesive set of evidence-based behavioral health tools that power measurement-based care.
Visit nView.com now to learn more about assessment tool options to meet your patients’ needs.