What Makes a Successful Mental Health Assessment?

To be diagnosed with a mental disorder, you must first go through an assessment by a medical or mental health professional. What makes a successful mental health assessment? Especially when seeking virtual treatment, you may be skeptical of the effectiveness of your assessment. A mental health assessment should analyze your symptoms and experiences to effectively diagnose appropriately, regardless of whether it is done in person or virtually. 

These assessments also allow the mental health professional to get more acquainted with you. They may go over your family history of mental health, ask about your childhood, and go through other questions to get a better gauge of your mental health needs. This introductory period can also be a time for you to voice concerns or observations you have regarding your mental health. The Lakehouse Recovery Center is an outpatient addiction recovery center, and while we focus on treating addiction, our staff is competent in treating other co-occurring disorders as well. If you are struggling to maintain your mental health, we encourage you to seek help today. 

What Is Causing You to Seek Help? 

Mental health assessments are designed to help mental health professionals understand more about your thoughts, feelings, and actions concerning your mental health. If you are reaching out to your primary care doctor or a mental health professional, chances are it is because you have noticed signs within your thoughts and actions that are alarming. That may include irrational behavior, feeling incredibly depressed, or experiencing uncontrollable fits of anxiety or panic attacks. Sometimes it is a friend or family member that suggests you seek help. It can be difficult to recognize signs or symptoms of mental illness. Learning that others have made such observations acts as a wake-up call.  

Not all mental health assessments look the same. They can vary depending on the therapist or symptoms you are presenting. One priority of the assessment is to determine risk. Are you at risk of hurting yourself? Could you potentially hurt others? Are your symptoms causing or exacerbating co-occurring mental or substance use disorders (SUDs)? These are all important questions to be asked, especially if the signs you are exhibiting are putting your life or the life of others at risk. 

What to Expect During a Mental Health Assessment 

As mentioned, mental health assessments vary, but there are some things you can typically expect. The first is a physical exam. The need for a physical exam is because physical diseases can cause symptoms that appear to be symptoms of a mental disorder. Of course, in today’s day and age of telehealth, an exam may not be possible. You want to be sure to make your assessor aware of any physical conditions you may have. Additionally, medical professionals may order lab work and will go through mental health or personal history. They will take note of any pertinent information that may help to explain your current situation, and accurately determine a diagnosis. 

The mental evaluation is where you will really get down to business. It may seem grueling to go through so many questions regarding your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Honesty is essential if you are going to improve your mental health. The mental evaluation also helps doctors or therapists determine how your symptoms are affecting your everyday life, cognitive ability, and professional or familial responsibilities. 

Once assessed, you can begin a plan of treatment. In a successful assessment, a mental health professional will get to know you professionally so that they can create an individualized treatment plan tailored to your needs. Treatment may utilize common tools or clinical modalities, such as psychotherapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). The most successful treatment is individualized treatment.

How Can You Tell if Your Assessment Was Successful?

In truth, there may not be one sure sign that indicates a successful assessment. Especially if you are seeking treatment for the first time, it is hard to know what to look for. You may start treatment and realize that your therapist just is not the right fit for you, and that is okay. However, if you felt listened to and that initial treatment is tailored to what you are going through, then you have had a successful assessment. Treatment takes time and results are not instant. An assessment is the beginning of a professional relationship. If any treatment is to be successful, there must be trust and honesty within that relationship. 

So many people are suffering from mental illness throughout the country. Numbers are at an all-time high, and what is even more unfortunate is that so many are afraid to seek treatment. Do not let the assessment or the process scare you. If you need mental health treatment, feel empowered to seek help immediately and find comfort in knowing that you do not have to go through it alone. 

The first step to seeking mental health treatment is reaching out to your doctor or mental health professional. Upon making an appointment, you will meet to discuss what you have been thinking, feeling, and experiencing lately. A physical examination may be conducted to rule out physical illnesses, and they will go over your personal history to understand better why you may be exhibiting signs and symptoms of a mental disorder. In a good assessment, a therapist or counselor will try to get to know you a little bit better. After this, they can begin to create a treatment plan individualized to your specific needs. You should leave an assessment feeling understood and hopeful that recovery is possible. If you or someone you love is suffering severely from mental illness, call (877) 762-3707. The Lakehouse can help you get the treatment you need today.