2. Mental Health Assessment
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Mental Health Assessments: Introduction
Mental Health Status Examination and
Common Assessment Questions
FL's Mental Health System's Services
Mental Health Assessments:
In order to receive publicly funded mental health services, a person must:
- receive services from a mental health provider who is funded by and has a contract with the Department of Children and Families District Mental Health Program Office or Medicaid;
- have the characteristics of the mental health or substance abuse target populations as defined by the State of Florida Department of Children and Families, Mental Health Program Office.
Once the person's eligibility has been determined, the person is enrolled in the mental health or substance abuse computer system. This is done so the service provider can bill for the services and supports the eligible person receives and so the services are documented correctly.
As a part of the 1998 Mental Health Strategic Plan, conducting assessment activities were found to be one of the most important functions of the mental health services model. Assessment activities were found to be essential for determining how to provide appropriate treatment, supports, and services. Assessment in the case of mental health services requires that the mental health staff person know the individual needing mental health services well and involve as many pertinent professionals, family members, and others as possible in the assessment process, based upon the urgency of the situation.
Mental health assessments occur in many different settings. If someone is in a crisis situation, he/she may be brought to an emergency room or to a mental health crisis unit for immediate assessment. If someone is not in immediate distress, a more detailed and thorough assessment may occur in the mental health center, the person's home, or some convenient location.
Quality indicators for assessment activities include:
- An appropriate identification of an individual's or family's needs
- Immediate service availability, and
- An appropriate match to providers of supports and services.
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Mental Status Examination and Common Assessment Questions
Many mental health practitioners do what is called a mental status examination. Examination questions will usually include:
- How is the person functioning now?
- What is the individual thinking and feeling?
- Does the person know where he/she is?
- Does the individual know why he/she has been brought to the hospital or crisis unit?
Common Assessment Questions
Each person and his/her situation is unique, a reality which demands that mental health screeners or people conducting assessments take the time to thoughtfully and carefully gather information to get a perspective of the person and the individual's most pressing needs for assistance and treatment. Often, medication can assist in handling the immediate problem, but it is imperative that all of the factors that precipitated the immediate situation be carefully considered.
Many questions will be asked of the person and family. Questions will usually be asked of the family or other people who may have accompanied the person. Sometimes, previous records will be brought with the person, but this is often not the case with people with psychiatric disabilities.
Some of the questions that may be asked include:
- What is the situation that brought the person here?
- Is the person currently on any medication for a psychiatric or other health related problem?
- Does the person have any medications with them?
- Is law enforcement involved?
- Is there anyone that the person would like to have contacted to let them know where he/she is?
- Is the person a danger to him/her self or others?
- Is the person receiving any psychiatric therapy, counseling, or other services for the mental health issue?
- Should a psychiatrist, doctor, psychologist or counselor be called?
- Does the person have any private insurance? Medicaid or Medicare?
- Is the individual receiving any services? From the school system, Children's Medical Services, religious minister/rabbi/priest, faith-based organizations?
- Has the person been taking any medications that are not prescribed for the mental health condition?
- Has the person been drinking alcohol, taking substances such as crack, cocaine, heroin, or other unprescribed medication?
- Does the person need assistance with housing, food, clothing, transportation or any other immediate needs?
- What are the person's strengths, abilities, or preferences?
- What actions might make the person worse?
- Is the person attending any school, university, college or community college?
- Is the person working? Where? How many hours?
- What is the individual's relationship with family members or other friends, acquaintances, or other people?
- Has the person seen a primary health care provider lately for any medical or dental conditions?
- Does the person have a lawyer who should be contacted?
Receiving this wide array of questions will assist people in knowing more about the person and the immediate situation(s) that need to be addressed.